Two Americans die in Great Barrier Reef chopper crash

Above, an aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of the Whitsunday Islands, along the central coast of Queensland in this 2014 photo. (AFP)
Updated 22 March 2018
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Two Americans die in Great Barrier Reef chopper crash

SYDNEY: Two elderly American tourists have been killed in a helicopter crash at Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, police said Thursday, despite onlookers’ desperate attempts to revive the pair.
The 79-year-old man and 65-year-old women died when the chopper went down near a pontoon on the reef off popular tourist hotspot Airlie Beach late Wednesday. Two other passengers, also from the United States, and the pilot survived with minor injuries.
“As a result of that crash, emergency services have attended and an independent, transparent and robust investigation is currently underway,” local police inspector Ian Haughton said.
There was no indication of what caused the crash but Haughton said the probe would look at the mechanical servicing of the helicopter, what happened at the scene that may have been a contributing factor, and any possibility of error.
Witnesses on a nearby dive platform helped drag the passengers from the water, the Brisbane Courier Mail reported, performing resuscitation under phone instruction from emergency services who were an hour away from the remote site in Queensland’s Whitsunday region.
But the two Americans could not be saved.
“It’s just gut-wrenching. It’s not good. My deepest sympathies goes out to those who lost their lives and those that were injured,” Whitsunday Mayor Andrew Willcox told broadcaster ABC.
“I know most of the tourism operators in the Whitsundays personally and I know they all hold their passenger experience and safety as their number one priority, so it will be a somber day for us in the Whitsundays.”
The company that operated the helicopter, reportedly Whitsunday Air Services, has suspended operations.


India seizes one ton of ketamine on boat, arrests six Myanmar crew

Updated 22 September 2019
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India seizes one ton of ketamine on boat, arrests six Myanmar crew

  • India’s coast guard seized $42 million worth of ketamine

NEW DELHI: India’s coast guard has arrested six Myanmar men and seized $42 million worth of ketamine after spotting a suspicious vessel in the Indian Ocean near the Nicobar Islands.
The 1,160-kilogram drug haul came after coast guard aircraft spotted the boat, which had its lights off, on Wednesday in India’s Exclusive Economic Zone, the defense ministry said in a statement.
The boat’s crew did not respond to radio calls and the coast guard eventually boarded it, with officials finding “57 gunny bundles of suspicious substance” on Friday.
“Preliminary analysis ... revealed that the suspicious substance was ketamine and there were 1,160 packets of 1kg each onboard the vessel,” the ministry added.
The six Myanmar men and cargo were taken to Port Blair, the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where they were questioned by investigators.
They claimed they left Myanmar on September 14 and were due to rendezvous with another boat “operating near the Thailand-Malaysia maritime border line” on Saturday, the statement said.
The Nicobar Islands are located near Southeast Asia, off Myanmar’s coast.
Parts of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand are in the lawless “Golden Triangle” zone, the world’s second-largest drug-producing region after Latin America.
Large amounts drugs such as heroin and methamphetamine are churned out in remote jungle labs each year and smuggled across Asia and beyond.