Brit couple named in fatal Sea World helicopter crash as family ‘heartbroken’

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    A British couple who were among four people killed in a horror mid-air crash between two helicopters in Australia have been named.

    The incident occurred near the Sea World theme park on the Gold Coast of Queensland state on Monday (January 2) at around 2pm (local time).

    The UK couple were a 57-year-old woman and 65-year-old man, according to Queensland Police. They have now been identified as Diane and Ron Hughes from Merseyside.

    READ MORE: Two Brits killed after helicopters crashed into each other in tourist hotspot

    The other victims included the 40-year-old pilot and a 36-year-old woman.

    The British couple had reportedly travelled to the Gold Coast to visit Ron’s daughter Jane Manns, her husband Ben Manns and their children.

    "Our family is heartbroken and we are still trying to contact friends and family to let them know," Jane and Ben told 7News.

    "Initial investigations" suggest the helicopters collided when one was taking off and the other landing.

    One was able to land with five of the six passengers only suffering minor injuries. The other crashed, killing four passengers and leaving a further three critically injured.

    It is thought that the cockpit of the descending helicopter was struck by the main rotor blade of the other at a height of 200-300 metres.

    The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) and the forensic crash unit are continuing to investigate.

    ATSB chief commissioner Angus Mitchell said: "The second helicopter coming in to land has remarkably managed to land upright, and considering the damage that was done to the front left-hand section of that helicopter where the pilot was sitting, that's a remarkable achievement.

    "Whilst it has been very tragic that four people have lost their lives and many families are in mourning, we could have had a far worse situation."

    He added: "A final report will be published at the conclusion of the investigation, however, should any critical safety issues be identified at any stage during the course of the investigation, the ATSB will immediately notify relevant parties so appropriate safety action can be taken."

    Sea World Helicopters, the helicopter company involved in the crash, said it would be closed "until further notice".

    It added: "Our deepest sympathy and condolences go out to all those involved over this very sad time."

    A spokesperson for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said in a statement: "We are supporting the family of two British nationals who died in Australia and are in contact with the local authorities."

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