Five people are dead after a helicopter crashed into the East River in New York City close to Roosevelt Island on Sunday evening, officials said.
The crash happened near 86th St. in Manhattan just before 7 p.m., Police Commissioner James O'Neill said.
A Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman said the Eurocopter AS350 went down just in the waterway just north of Roosevelt Island.
Sources had told NY1 around 8:36 p.m. that five people had died due to the crash.
Officials said the private charter helicopter, which was on a photoshoot, flipped upside down and submerged in the water, which was about 50 feet deep. The current in the water was 4 MPH, according to officials.
Officials said the helicopter was owned by Liberty Helicopter Tours.
Video posted on Twitter showed a red helicopter land hard in the water and then tip over as its rotors slap at the water.
Six people were on the helicopter in total. O'Neill said the pilot — who is OK and was taken to a local hospital for an evaluation — managed to free himself while the other five passengers did not.
Nigro said the five people, besides the pilot, in the helicopter were tightly harnessed and had to be cut free by emergency responders.
Two of the people injured were declared dead the scene, officials said. Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said around 9:40 p.m. that three people were removed from the crash scene in critical condition.
The identities of the victims were not confirmed, as of 10:09 p.m.
A tugboat responded to the scene. FDNY marine units and NYPD harbor units were at the scene soon after. The helicopter had been pulled from the crash scene before 9 p.m. and was brought to a pier in Manhattan.
It is not confirmed at this time exactly what led to the crash, but sources said the pilot called a mayday before the crash.
Weather was quiet at the time of the crash, with clear skies, a temperature of 43 degrees, with winds at 10 to 12 miles per hour, and a visibility of 10 miles. The temperature of the East River was under 40 degrees.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was travelling from outside the city Sunday night, has been briefed on the crash.
Witnesses at the scene said one person aboard the helicopter climbed out and used a raft to get to safety.
The NYPD said people should expect heavy traffic, lane closures, and emergency personnel on the FDR Drive.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are investigating.
The Coast Guard said three boats — a 45-foot Response Boat and a 29-foot Response Boat — went into the water to assist divers.
NYC Ferry on the Astoria and East River route is, as of 8:52 p.m., suspended until further notice. Check ferry.nyc for the latest updates on NYC Ferry service.
The skies over New York constantly buzz with helicopters carrying tourists, businesspeople, traffic reporters, medical teams, and others. Crashes are not uncommon.
A crash in October 2011 in the East River killed a British woman visiting the city for her 40th birthday. Three other passengers were injured.
A helicopter on a sightseeing tour of Manhattan crashed into the Hudson River in July 2007, shaking up the eight people aboard but injuring no one.
In June 2005, two helicopters crashed into the East River in the same week. One injured eight people including some banking executives. The other hit the water shortly after takeoff on a sightseeing flight, injuring six tourists and the pilot.