The helicopter pontoon at Hardy Reef, where a chopper crashed on Wednesday afternoon. (cqplanespotting.blogspot.com.au – file image)
Two people have died after a helicopter crashed on a remote Barrier Reef pontoon off the Whitsunday islands in North Queensland, the ABC understands.
It is believed five people were aboard the helicopter when it crashed at the Hardy Reef pontoon.
Late on Wednesday afternoon, a Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) media spokesman told the ABC the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) had confirmed that two people were killed.
A second official source also told the ABC two people had died.
The ATSB issued a statement to say it would be investigating the crash, but just before 8:00pm on Wednesday it issued another statement denying it had confirmed any fatalities.
In its initial statement, the ATSB said one person had been seriously injured and two people suffered minor injuries in the accident.
The Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) sent a chopper to the pontoon after receiving a call about the accident at 4:15pm on Wednesday.
A QAS spokesperson said paramedics had been providing crash witnesses with instructions on how to perform CPR over the phone.
The crash site is about 65 kilometres north-east of the Whitsundays.
The ATSB said a Eurocopter EC120B like this one crashed near Hardy Reef. (Supplied: cqplanespotting – file image)
Late on Wednesday afternoon, the police boat Damien Leeding and other vessels were sent to the crash site.
In its initial statement about the accident, the ATSB said the helicopter was a single-engine Eurocopter EC120B.
It said the chopper crashed into the water “in the vicinity of Hardy Reef, north-west of Hook Island”.
“A team of transport safety investigators will soon travel to the accident location to commence the evidence collection phase of the investigation,” the ATSB said.
“There, investigators will interview witnesses, examine any available recorded data, review operational records and technical documentation amongst other activities.”