One dead as helicopter crash-lands on Manhattan building

Thomas Urbain, Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jun 11 2019 03:57 AM | Updated as of Jun 11 2019 06:47 AM

A view of 787 7th Avenue in midtown Manhattan where a helicopter was reported to have crashed in New York City, on June 10, 2019. Brendan McDermid, Reuters

NEW YORK -- A helicopter crash-landed on top of a high-rise in midtown Manhattan Monday, starting a fire and leaving one person dead as the entire building shook from the impact.

Emergency services fanned out around the 54-story building on Seventh Avenue after what was described as a "hard-landing" by a chopper that took off barely 10 minutes earlier from a heliport in the city.

The New York fire department confirmed 1 fatality -- presumed to be the pilot according to Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Speaking at the scene, de Blasio said it "could have been a much worse incident."

"There were no other injuries that we know of at this point in time to anyone in the building or on the ground," he said: adding: "Thank god for that."

The pilot was the only person on board the chopper according to US aviation regulators.

"There is no indication at this time that this was an act of terror," said de Blasio. "And there is no ongoing threat to New York city based on all the information we have right now."

Video footage of the aftermath of the crash showed a gray plume of smoke drifting away from the top of the building.

The city fire department said it had extinguished a fire on the building's roof, and was continuing to operate in response to fuel leaking from the helicopter. 

Nathan Hutton, who works in the building on the 29th floor, said he had "felt the whole building shift." 

"We thought it was an earthquake or something like that," he told AFP. "Something small like that. Then two minutes after, the alarms went off and then security came in: 'Everybody just grab your bag and walk out the door now!'" 

He said there was no panic, but going down the stairs "was scary because everybody from all the floors" was descending "all at the same time" -- a process that took half an hour.

"There was no shouting but a little nervousness, with the occasional, 'C'mon, move!" he added. 

TRUMP BRIEFED 

The Federal Aviation Administration tweeted identified the chopper as an Agusta A109E and said the crash occurred about 1:45 pm (1745 GMT).

President Donald Trump said he had been kept informed of the situation.

"I have been briefed on the helicopter crash in New York City. Phenomenal job by our GREAT First Responders who are currently on the scene. THANK YOU for all you do 24/7/365! The Trump Administration stands ready should you need anything at all," Trump tweeted.

The city fire department urged people to avoid the area.

Five people died after a helicopter plunged into Manhattan's east river near the upscale Upper East Side neighborhood in March 2018.

The chopper, which was owned by tourism group Liberty, was carrying six people including the pilot, who managed to free himself. The other five did not.

That crash led US aviation authorities to review regulations for so-called "doors off" flights, which provide passengers with a more direct view of the skyline than flights with the aircraft's doors shut.