Two bodies have been recovered in a midair helicopter-plane collision over the Hudson River that New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg called "not survivable" on Saturday afternoon.
Bloomberg said there were five Italian tourists and a pilot aboard the sightseeing helicopter and three people, including a child, aboard the small plane. He said other bodies have been spotted in the debris.
"This is not going to have a happy ending," Bloomberg said. He added that "this has changed from a rescue to a recovery mission." The crash sent debris from both aircraft into the water between Manhattan and New Jersey.
The helicopter belongs to Liberty Helicopter Sightseeing Tours, Browne said.
"It had taken off from West 30th Street heliport just prior to collision," said Jim Peters, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman.
The plane, a Piper PA-32, was flying south, bound for Ocean City, N.J., Peters said.
The plane had taken off from Teterboro Airport in New Jersey heading south along the Hudson, Peters said, adding that the plane was owned by LCA Partnerships of Fort Washington, Pa. The chopper is a Eurocopter AS 350, the AP reported.
Deena Glanzberg, who is visiting from Miami and was having lunch with her son at a sidewalk cafe near Chelsea Market with a straight-shot view of the Hudson, said she saw the collision.
"The helicopter - it just stopped in midair. It was just a drop. It was not a big crash," Glanzberg said.
Referring to the chopper, she added: "It was just quiet - it was in the air, and then it went down very quietly."
Another witness who told the AP that he saw the crash from the shore in Hoboken, N.J., said the helicopter "dropped like a rock" and that the plane lost its wing. He said he heard a loud pop that sounded like a car backfire.
Browne, the police spokesman, said authorities have received reports of debris found on the New Jersey side of the river including a "tire that appears to have come from one of the aircraft."
A jogger told Newsday that she saw a body covered with a sheet lying on the pier near a staging area being used by rescuers.
Along the esplanade on the Manhattan side, dozens of bicyclists, runners and skaters stopped to watch the rescue efforts.
The Hudson River was the site of a miraculous emergency landing in January of this year in which a jetliner safely splash-landed on the water, and all 155 people aboard were rescued, after birds struck the plane.
And Saturday's crash wasn't the first time a chopper belonging to Liberty - whose Web site promises "a once in a lifetime experience" - has gone into the Hudson.
In July 2007, a sightseeing chopper crashed into the river between midtown and Weehawken, N.J. None of the eight people on board - the pilot and seven passengers - were injured.
With Sarah Portlock
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