Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage confirms DoC staff on-board helicopter in fatal crash

There are no survivors from a fatal helicopter crash near Wanaka, the Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) has confirmed.

Two of the three people on-board the flight were male Department of Conservation (DoC) workers.

"It's an absolute tragedy and my heart goes out to their families and their workmates," , Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage says. 

Newshub understands the helicopter was on its way to Haast to begin the tahr cull.

The crash happened shortly before 11am on Stevenson Rd near Wanaka Airport.

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage confirms DoC staff on-board helicopter in fatal crash
Photo credit: Newshub

A Newshub team was waiting for a helicopter to arrive at Haast for the start of the tahr cull. It didn't arrive.

The scene will be guarded overnight and police are working to recover the victim's bodies, Inspector Olaf Jensen says.

TAIC has opened an inquiry into the crash.

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage confirms DoC staff on-board helicopter in fatal crash
Photo credit: Newshub

The Chief Investigator of Accidents, Captain Tim Burfoot, says the accident involved a Hughes 500 helicopter.

"We are in the early stages of gathering information about the aircraft, the circumstances and the people on board," Capt. Burfoot says.

"We are working with the emergency services currently on site, who have initial control of the scene."

TAIC are sending a four-person investigation team to the scene.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern sent her condolences to the victim's families. 

"DoC staff go out every day working on our behalf on our environment, sometimes in really dangerous situations and this is an absolute tragedy," she says.

The fatal crash comes just a few months after pilot Matthew Wallis was killed in a helicopter crash in Lake Wanaka.

The 39-year-old's body was pulled from the wreckage of the crash, two days after an extensive search and rescue operation.

Newshub.

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