At least two dead after helicopter crashes into East River

NEW YORK — Two people were killed on Sunday after a helicopter went down in New York’s East River, according to authorities who briefed the press at the site of the crash.

Three other passengers remain in critical condition. A sixth person, the pilot, was able to free himself and was rescued, FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said. He was taken to the hospital for observation.

“One of the most difficult parts of the rescue were that five people were tightly harnessed,” Nigro said. “People had to be cut out.”

Nigro and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill spoke to reporters Sunday evening.

The Liberty Helicopters chopper had been chartered for a private photo shoot, authorities said.

Liberty Helicopters describes itself on its website as “the largest and most experience helicopter sightseeing and charter service in New York City.”

The company has “a fleet of 10 state of the art Airbus Helicopters (formerly American Eurcopter),” according to the website. “We have been in business and flying safely for over 30 years,” the website says.

The helicopter was upside-down and submerged when emergency responders reached it, authorities said.

The Federal Aviation Administration earlier said on Twitter that the chopper went down in the river near Roosevelt Island at 7 p.m. The FAA identified it as a Eurocopter AS350.

The National Transportation Safety Board will determine probable cause of the incident, the FAA said.

Police said the chopper is in the water around 23rd Street and put in a request for a barge with a crane to pull it out.