NZ chopper crash victims’ bodies removed

It may be days before police can recover the remaining bodies from the wreckage of a helicopter crash that killed seven on Fox Glacier.


Three bodies have been removed from the crash site where two young Australians, four Britons and a Kiwi pilot died on Saturday.

Police said they had recovered those bodies on Sunday morning by using a helicopter to winch them out during a lull in bad weather.

But conditions worsened again in the afternoon, and police were unable to reach the remaining four.

With weather forecasts poor for Monday and Tuesday, police said it could be the middle of the week before they reached the site again.

Inspector John Canning said the terrain was treacherous and care had to be taken.

“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.”

The Australian victims were named as Leang Sovannmony, 27, and Josephine Gibson, 29, both from NSW – not South Australia as previously believed.

The pilot has been named as Mitchell Paul Gameren, 28, from Queenstown.

NZ Prime Minister John Key said he had passed his condolences on to Malcolm Turnbull on Saturday night.

Mr Turnbull told reporters in Kuala Lumpur he was thinking of the victims’ families.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with their families and we’re very sorry to hear about the accident,” he said.

The British tourists were named as Andrew Virco, 50, and Katharine Walker, 51, both from Cambridge, and Nigel Edwin Charlton, 66, and Cynthia Charlton, 70, both from Hampshire.

Emergency services were alerted to the crash just before 11am on Saturday.

Investigators were able to fly over the crash site on Sunday morning, but could not continue working in the afternoon.

A drone would be used to get photographs of the area when the weather permitted.

Investigators from France and the United States have been invited to join the inquiry, as they are the countries where the aircraft was made.