Welcome to the Hawaii State News update from Hawaii News Digest.
Top story: The wreckage of a Kauai Tour helicopter has been found in a remote part of Kokee. The flight manifest shows there were seven persons on board when the helicopter disappeared.
Views expressed in this Hawaii News update are those of the reporters and correspondent.
Content supplied by the “Honolulu Star-Advertiser” and the Associated Press.
Accessed on 28 December 2019, 0135 UTC, Post 2045.
Please click link or scroll down to read the story:
Kauai Fire Department officials said wreckage from the missing Kauai Tour helicopter was found late Friday afternoon in a remote part of Kokee. According to Kauai Fire Department Battalion Chief Solomon Kanoho, seven persons, including two children, were on board the helicopter when it disappeared.
Here’s more information from the “Honolulu Star-Advertiser”:
“Ground and air crews are continuing to search for survivors, Kanoho said.
The fire department is also focusing on identifying and contacting family members of the passengers on the flight manifest.
Kanoho said the National Transportation Safety Board was contacted and “the lead investigator is en route.”
The Kauai Fire Department requested the Federal Aviation Administration to establish a temporary flight restriction in the vicinity of the search area.
Several private helicopter companies offered assistance, but safety is paramount for the Coast Guard, Navy and others, so “we tried to hold off and … have them coordinate with the joint operation center,” Kanoho said.
He said the helicopter was traveling along the usual route that tour helicopters normally fly.
Due to the time of the notification, KFD notified the Coast Guard, which used its night-vision capabilities, and requested additional assets.
In addition to county fire and police and the Coast Guard, other agencies involved in the search and rescue efforts are the Civil Air Patrol, the U.S. Navy Pacific Missile Range Facility, the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Hawaii National Guard.
UPDATE: 11:55 a.m.
The wreckage of a Eurocopter AS350 carrying seven people has been found in Kokee near Nualolo, according to Kauai county officials.
The search for survivors is ongoing.
“First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these passengers,” said Mayor Derek Kawakami. “Operations continue and we are doing everything we can at this time.”
The president and owner of Safari Helicopters could not be reached for comment at this time.
The Coast Guard established a command post on Kauai as they collaborate with multiple agencies in the ongoing search for a missing Eurocopter AS350 tour helicopter carrying seven people.
There are no signs of the aircraft operated by Safari Helicopters.
“The search continues for the seven people and any sign” of the aircraft on Kauai,” said Lt. Chloe Harmon, command duty officer, Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center Honolulu, in a news release today.
In emailed statement, Gov. David Ige said, ”We are currently coordinating with federal and local agencies and are ready to deploy state resources as needed to help in the search effort.
County officials said the helicopter with a pilot and six passengers was conducting a tour over the Na Pali Coast and scheduled to return to Lihue Airport at approximately 5:30 p.m. Thursday. According to the Coast Guard, two minors are among the passengers aboard the chopper
According to preliminary report, the pilot’s last contact was made at about 4:40 p.m. when the pilot indicated they were leaving the Waimea Canyon area.
The aircraft has an electronic locator, but no signals have been received.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued an alert notice for a Eurocopter AS350 helicopter after it was reported overdue.
The Coast Guard’s Dolphin helicopter crew conducted three search patterns throughout the night along the northwest portion of Kauai while the HSM-37 Seahawk crew scanned the northwest shoreline area for several hours.
The Coast Guard deployed its HC-130 airplane, MH-65 helicopter, 45-foot Response Boat Medium and William Hart (WPC 1134) today to resume the search for the chopper.
The U.S. Navy Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 37 MH-60R Seahawk helicopter crew, Civil Air Patrol is also assisting in air and ground searches along with the Kauai Fire Department, Kauai Police Department, state Department of Land and Natural Resources, Hawaii Air National Guard and private helicopter companies.
Curt Lofstedt, president of Island Helicopters Kauai, said they have three helicopters assisting in the search.
Private helicopters are searching areas outside of Waimea Canyon, Lofstedt said.
Safari Helicopters has been conducting sight-seeing tours on Kauai since 1987. According to its website, the company operates AStar 350 B2-7 helicopters.
Today’s weather forecast includes winds at about 28 mph with wind waves at 7 feet, a northwest swell of 6 feet and scattered rain showers. A small craft advisory is in effect for waters around Kauai and northwest Oahu.