Manhattan Helicopter Crash: One Dead, No Other Injuries In “Very Troubling Incident”; Mayor Says It’s Not Terrorism – Update

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UPDATED with quotes from news conference, 1:02 PM: A helicopter has crashed onto the roof of a midtown Manhattan high rise building at 51st Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues, in rainy conditions and what looks to be a forced landing.

The neighborhood, just north of Times Square, is home to various media, entertainment and publishing companies including those including in 30 Rockefeller Center and some of Broadway’s theaters extending into the area.

The FDNY has confirmed one fatality. Authorities said they have a preliminary ID on the male victim –likely the pilot — but were waiting for confirmation. No one else was aboard the privately owned Agusta A109E aircraft, which officials said left the 34th Street helipad at 1:32 PM local time and crashed 11 minutes later. Officials believe it was an executive transport flight but noted that all the information is “preliminary.”

Video that appears to show a helicopter flying erratically toward the city just before the crash surfaced on social media.

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During an afternoon news conference, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio called it “a very strange, very troubling incident” but stressed, “There is no indication at this time that this was an act of terrorism,” he stressed, “and there is no ongoing threat to New York City based on all the information we have right now. … And there is no danger of any kind to New Yorkers at this point.”

He said there were “no other injuries that we know of at this point in time to anyone in the building or on the ground, And I want to say thank God for that – this could have been a much worse incident.”

De Blasio said no cause has been determined as multiple agencies investigate the crash and praised the first responders.

City officals said the fire is out and that some leaked fuel has been “mitigated.” No debris fell to the street, they noted.

The building remained under an evacuation order, and traffic in the area was snarled.  Some adjacent and nearby buildings apparently have been evacuated. West 51st and West 52nd streets between 6th and 7th avenues have been closed to vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

Helipads have been banned from Manhattan since 1977, when five people died in a helicopter accident atop the old Pan Am Building (now the MetLife Building).

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have been notified of the incident. Pence said there are no indications of terrorism. Although Trump Tower is located about six blocks away, the president is at the White House.

Trump tweeted that his administration “stands ready” should first responders need assistance.

Said Cuomo: “The preliminary information is that there was a helicopter that made a forced landing, an emergency landing or landed on the roof of the building for one reason or another. There was a fire that happened when the helicopter hit the roof. People who were in the building said they felt the building shake. The fire department believes the fire is under control. There may have been casualties involved in people in the helicopter. We don’t know what caused the helicopter to land on top of the building but people in the building itself, nobody has been hurt.”

The crash of the Agusta A109E aircraft took place on top of 787 Seventh Avenue, and the 54-story building has been evacuated. The high-rise office building, according to its website, houses a fitness center, a bank branch, restaurants and access to the Rockefeller Center retail center.

Although the Broadway production of Beetlejuice is located at the nearby Winter Garden Theatre, on Broadway between 50th and 51st streets, the show does not have a scheduled performance tonight.

In an address to reporters carried live on cable news, Cuomo said, “If you’re a New Yorker you have a level of PTSD from 9/11 and I remember that morning all too well. So as soon as you hear an aircraft hit a building, I think my mind goes where every New Yorker’s mind goes.”

Erik Pedersen contributed to this report.

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