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Australian Helicopter Crash Kills Three

SYDNEY, Aug. 19 (UPI) — It could take months to determine the cause of a fatal helicopter crash in the South Australian outback, officials said.

The Sydney-based helicopter crashed Thursday evening, killing three Australian Broadcasting Corp. employees, the news agency reported Friday.

The crash killed journalist Paul Lockyer, pilot Gary Ticehurst and cameraman John Bean, who were on an assignment near Lake Eyre when the helicopter went down.

“There’s not much left of the chopper at all,” said ABC reporter Scott Bills, who later flew over the site in another helicopter.

“There’s a small piece of the tail rotor and we could make out a bit of the main rotor as well, but the rest is just charred ash … all of the ground surrounding the helicopter, about 50 meters of it, has all been blacked out.”

Witnesses said the helicopter took off normally, but appeared to perform an unusual maneuver before it fell from the sky.

The remoteness of the site is making the recovery of the bodies difficult, South Australia Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Smith said. Smith said heavy rainfall in the area also complicated the recovery process.

The incident is the worst to hit ABC since four staff members died in the crash of a light plane in 1983.

Investigators said it could take months to determine what caused the crash because the helicopter was reduced to ashes and the remoteness of the site could stymie the investigation into cause.

UPI - United Press International, Inc.

Since 1907, United Press International (UPI) has been a leading provider of critical information to media outlets, businesses, governments and researchers worldwide.

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