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4 Britons Killed In New Zealand Glacier Helicopter Crash

Six tourists and the pilot died when the sightseeing helicopter plunged into the Fox Glacier during bad weather.

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Updated on

Four British people were among those on board, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office confirmed.

A couple from Cambridge, Andrew Virco, aged 50 and Katharine Walker aged 51 and a couple from Hampshire, Nigel and Cynthia Charlton, aged 66 and 70 were among the dead.

"Next of Kin have been informed. We are liaising closely with local authorities, and are providing consular assistance to the families of those affected," a FCO spokesperson said in a statement.

Two Australians, Sovannmony Leang, 27 and Josephine Gibson 29, were also killed in the accident.

The pilot, who also died, was 28-year-old Mitchell Paul Gameren from Queenstown, New Zealand.

Paramedics and an alpine rescue team on the scene had to be winched down to the crash site to confirm there were no survivors, Sky News reported.

Heavy rain and heavily overcast conditions were reported at the time of the crash, according to AFP, and police felt continued bad weather means it could take "some time" to formally identify those killed.

"We have been to the site and there is no sign of life and tomorrow we hope to recover the bodies of those involved," police inspector John Canning said. "I'm not going to risk any more lives, we've lost seven.

"The terrain at the top of the glacier is very rough, as you can imagine it's icy and there are crevasses -- it's quite dangerous."

A "technically challenging" recovery operation, where so far three bodies have been removed from the wreckage, was halted amidst bad weather on Sunday and is not expected to be resumed until at least Wednesday, police said.

"The site is near the top of the glacier, it's all ice, it's not level and there are blocks of ice as big as buildings with crevasses between them," commander inspector John Canning explained.

"There will be danger in getting teams into the area and traversing the area. While we're determined to return these people to their families, this will be a complex and technical task with an emphasis on the safety of those involved."

Fox Glacier is one of New Zealand's most popular tourist attractions and attracts thousands of tourists every year.

It is thought that the flight was operated by Alpine Adventures. A spokesperson for the local sightseeing company confirmed it was operating a scenic flight with six passengers at the time of of the crash, AFP said.

Laura Silver is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

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