Atop Manhattan skyscraper, investigators probe deadly helicopter crash

FILE PHOTO: A view of 787 7th Avenue in midtown Manhattan where a helicopter was reported to have crashed in New York City, New York, U.S., June 10, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) were sifting through the wreckage of a helicopter atop a Manhattan skyscraper on Tuesday as they sought to determine why the aircraft crashed on the roof a day earlier, killing the pilot.

Tim McCormack, the pilot, was the only person aboard when he crashed onto the roof of 787 Seventh Avenue with enough force to jolt workers at the finance and law firms inside the 50-floor tower in midtown Manhattan.

Emergency vehicles are seen outside 787 7th Avenue in midtown Manhattan where a helicopter crashed in New York City, New York, U.S., June 10, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Emergency vehicles are seen outside 787 7th Avenue in midtown Manhattan where a helicopter crashed in New York City, New York, U.S., June 10, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Police and other officials believe it was an accident, but have yet to say why McCormack was flying over one of the country’s densest urban districts through rain and low clouds on Monday afternoon.

The crash stirred memories of the Sept. 11 attacks and sparked renewed calls for tightening restrictions for New York City’s airspace. U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney, who represents parts of Manhattan, said she wanted all “nonessential” flights banned.

McCormack was an experienced pilot who had taken off from a heliport on Manhattan’s east side to head to Linden Airport in New Jersey, according to Paul Dudley, the airport’s director.

He would have needed clearance from the air traffic control tower at New York City’s LaGuardia Airport to fly over that part of Manhattan, but it was unclear if that happened, Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters on Monday.

The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, the state agency that manages the airport, did not respond to questions about the incident on Tuesday.

The Federal Aviation Administration said on Monday that controllers “did not handle” the flight, but it remained unclear whether there was any communication at all between the helicopter and air traffic authorities.

A spokesman for the NTSB, a federal agency that determines the causes of major transportation accidents, did not respond to questions on Tuesday about the status of the investigation.

The crash site is less than a half mile (0.8 km) from Trump Tower, where U.S. President Donald Trump maintains an apartment. The area has been under extra-tight flight restrictions since Trump’s election in 2016.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Scott Malone and Bill Berkrot)

Four Marine helicopter crew presumed dead after California crash

FILE PHOTO: A United States Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallion Helicopter sits at North Island Naval Air Station Coronado, California, April 12, 2015. REUTERS/Louis Nastro/File Photo

(Reuters) – A U.S. Marine helicopter crashed during a training mission in southern California Tuesday afternoon and all four crew members are believed to have died, a Marine spokeswoman announced.

No details about the nature of the training mission were released other than it was routine and held in the desert in El Centro, Ca., about 100 miles east of San Diego.

The helicopter was a Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion from the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing based at the Marine Corps Air Station in Miramar, Ca., according to a statement from the Marines.

It is the largest and heaviest “heavy-lift” helicopter in the U.S. military.

The accident is under investigation and no other information was available.

The wreck is the deadliest Marine accident since a cargo plane crash in the Mississippi Delta that killed 16 Marines in July, 2017.

(Reporting by Rich McKay; editing by Jason Neely)

Big Mexico quake cuts power and damages homes; two dead in crash

People stand on the street after an earthquake shook buildings in Mexico City, Mexico February 16, 2018.

By Lizbeth Diaz and Daina Beth Solomon

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – A prolonged 7.2 magnitude quake that rocked Mexico on Friday left nearly a million homes and businesses without power in the capital and south but the only reported deaths came when a military helicopter crashed after surveying the aftermath.

At least 50 homes suffered damage in the southern state of Oaxaca, which, along with Mexico City, is still reeling from earthquakes that caused widespread damage in September.

The epicenter was about 90 miles (145 km) from Pacific coast surfer resort Puerto Escondido in the southern state of Oaxaca and had a depth of 15.3 miles (24.6 km), according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

At least two people died when a helicopter carrying Mexico’s interior minister and the governor of Oaxaca crashed while trying to land after a tour of damage from the earthquake, officials said. The senior officials survived.

The powerful, sustained shaking on Friday gave way to 225 aftershocks, the national seismology service said, and caused widespread panic.

In Mexico City, the seismic alarm sounded 72 seconds before tremors were felt, Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said, giving residents time to flee to the streets.

Patricia Gutierrez, a 66-year-old English teacher, was taking a nap with her 11-month-old granddaughter, Juliet, when she heard the distinctive siren.

“She recognized the sound. When I opened my eyes, I saw her eyes in terror. Her eyes were wide, like plates. She didn’t say anything,” Gutierrez said of her granddaughter.

Gutierrez managed to leave her ground floor apartment before the quake began. “I left the phone and everything except for my shoes and the baby,” she said.

Authorities said no deaths directly linked to the quake had been reported nationally.

BRICKS AND RUBBLE

The Oaxacan town of Jamiltepec appeared to sustain the heaviest impact in the southern region, with 50 homes damaged along with a church and government building, the state’s civil protection agency said.

Patients were evacuated from a hospital there and from another in the nearby town of Putla Villa de Guerrero. On a local highway, a fire ignited when two high-tension electric cables struck each other.

In the town of Pinotepa Nacional close to the quake’s epicenter, a photo obtained from Oaxaca’s civil protection agency showed a single-story building where a portion of the brick facade had crumbled into the street. A hospital was also damaged, and a collapsed structure blocked a major highway.

About 100,000 people in Oaxaca had lost power, the state’s governor said.

National oil firm Pemex said its installations were in order, including its biggest refinery 240 miles (386 km) from the epicenter. A hotel operator in Puerto Escondido said his property had no damage.

Tremors were felt as far away as Guatemala to the south.

Images in the media appeared to show bricks and rubble fallen from buildings, and products tumbling off shelves in a supermarket.

In Mexico City, tall buildings swayed for more than a minute as seismic alarms sounded, with older structures in the chic Condesa neighborhood knocking into each other, and some cracks appearing in plaster and paintwork.

The Popocatepetl volcano south of the capital sent a kilometer-high column of ash into the sky, said Mexico’s disaster prevention agency.

Two young men standing by a building that collapsed in a Sept. 19 earthquake were still hugging minutes after the tremor. People crowded in the streets, one lady in her pajamas.

Trees, overhead cables and cars swayed, and a fire truck raced down the street.

Guadalupe Martinez, a 64-year-old retiree, said she was still shaking from shock. But the quake was a far cry from the tremors that struck Mexico in September, Martinez said.

“This time it was strong, but it did not jump up and down,” she said.

(Reporting by Julia Love, Christine Murray, Michael O’Boyle, David Alire Garcia, Anthony Esposito and Stefanie Eschenbacher; Writing by Daina Beth Solomon and Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien, Lisa Shumaker and Tom Hogue)