U.S. Coast Guard searches for tour helicopter missing in Hawaii with 7 aboard

A search is underway for seven people aboard a tour helicopter that disappeared in Hawaii, the U.S. Coast Guard said Friday.

The owner of the helicopter contacted the Coast Guard about 45 minutes after the aircraft was due back from a tour of Kauai’s Na Pali Coast on Thursday evening, a news release said. The helicopter has an electronic locator, but no signals had been received, it said.

The helicopter was carrying a pilot and six passengers, with two of them believed to be minors, the release said.

“The weather conditions are challenging,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Robert Cox of the Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center Honolulu. “We have trained crews responding and on scene searching for any signs of the helicopter and those aboard.”

According to the release, clouds and rain at the scene rendered visibility at 6.4 kilometres, with winds at 45 km/h. Friday’s forecast predicted winds at around 37 km/h.

A helicopter and crew were launched from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point, and additional support was provided by the U.S. navy’s Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 37 at Kaneohe Bay. A coast guard cutter and crew were also launched from Honolulu.

Further searches with a search-and-rescue airplane and crew, and fresh helicopter crew were scheduled for first light, if necessary.

According to the release, helicopter tours are common above the island of Kauai, much of which is a state park.

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