Two people were killed when a helicopter crashed on a remote Barrier Reef pontoon off the Whitsunday islands in North Queensland, police have confirmed.
Five people were aboard the helicopter when it crashed at the Hardy Reef pontoon.
“Three other people, including the male pilot and a male and female passenger, also believed to be from overseas, will be transported by sea for medical attention for non-life threating injuries,” a police statement said.
“All passengers were recovered from the helicopter.
“Police will continue to assist the Australian Transport Safety Bureau with the investigation and recovery of the aircraft.”
The crash site is about 65 kilometres north-east of the Whitsunday islands.
The police boat Damien Leeding and several other boats were dispatched to the site with police and other emergency services.
A Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) spokesperson said they received a call about the accident around 4:15pm.
The spokesperson said paramedics had provided crash witnesses with instructions on how to perform CPR over the phone.
Earlier on Wednesday, there were conflicting reports from Australian aviation authorities about the deaths.
A Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) media spokesman told the ABC the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) had confirmed that two people were killed.
The ATSB issued a statement to say it would be investigating the crash, but just before 8:00pm on Wednesday it issued another statement denying it had confirmed any fatalities.
The ATSB said the helicopter was a single-engine Eurocopter EC120B.
“A team of transport safety investigators will soon travel to the accident location to commence the evidence collection phase of the investigation,” the ATSB said.
“There, investigators will interview witnesses, examine any available recorded data, review operational records and technical documentation amongst other activities.”