5 Dead in Helicopter Crash Near Las Vegas

A tour helicopter crashed into a mountainside near Las Vegas, Nev. Wednesday, right around 5 p.m. local time, killing the pilot and four passengers on board, federal authorities said.

The helicopter was taking people on a sunset tour of the Las Vegas Strip and Hoover Dam, The Associated Press reported. It crashed into the River Mountains surrounding Lake Mead, about 30 miles from the Strip. The causes of the crash are yet to be investigated. The weather was mostly clear near Lake Mead on the day of the accident, according to reports, and the authorities said there were no notable conditions that might have caused the accident.

The initial rescue efforts have been made additionally difficult, as the site of the tragic accident is not accessible by road. The problematic location has also made officials delay recovery action and investigation until early Thursday morning, AP reported. Meanwhile, a park ranger was reportedly left at the crash site to protect the bodies and debris.

Authorities have not released any information about the identities of the victims.

The helicopter was an AS-350, which can hold up to six passengers and is often used for air tours, said the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). According to the agency's records, the aircraft was built in 1989.

In mid-November, a similar tragic incident in Hawaii took the lives of five people. A pair of newlyweds from Pennsylvania, who were in Hawaii on a honeymoon, was among those killed. In that accident, the helicopter crashed and exploded into flames while they flew over the scenic Hawaiian island of Molokai. The passengers were on a 45-minute tour that departed from Kahului.

U.S. National Transportation Board Safety has been investigating that crash, the cause of which is yet to be determined.

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