Three killed in Hawaii tour helicopter crash

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image captionResidents used garden hoses to try to extinguish the blazing helicopter

A tour helicopter crashed into a Hawaiian residential neighbourhood and burst into flames, killing all three people onboard, officials say.

No bystanders were injured in the fiery crash in Kailua, a popular tourist destination located about 12 miles (19km) outside of Honolulu.

Emergency officials were nearby responding to another call when the crash happened.

It is the second tourist helicopter in Hawaii to crash this month.

Witness Tehani Alo told KGMB-TV that she saw the helicopter spinning out of control before it crashed and burst into flames.

"It sounded like hell landing," she said.

The four-seat Robinson R44 helicopter was owned by tour company Novictor Helicopters, which said in a statement that it was working with federal officials on the investigation.

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"This accident is heartbreaking for everyone, especially the families and friends of the passengers and pilot, who was part of our Novictor family. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of them," the company said.

"The safety and welfare of our personnel and passengers are our top priority."

The victims have yet to be identified.

What exactly happened?

Investigators have not yet determined the cause of the crash, which occurred during rush hour traffic on Oneawa Street in the beachfront region, home to a Marine Corps base and also where former US president Barack Obama has vacationed.

Debris fell onto at least eight properties, with one resident finding a mobile phone on his roof and another discovering a shoe in the yard, local media report.

Mike Cunningham told KGMB-TV that he was driving around 09:00 local time (19:00 GMT) when the aircraft plummeted to the ground about 20ft (6 metres) in front of him "very hard, nose first".

"I don't see how anybody could've walked away from it," Mr Cunningham said. "It was in flames immediately. And you couldn't get close to it."

Earlier this month a helicopter crash landed in the Sacred Falls State Park after suffering apparent engine failure.

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