A British couple who were among four people killed when two helicopters collided in Australia have been named.
Diane and Ron Hughes, 57 and 65, were from Liverpool and married in 2021.
The crash happened on the Gold Coast – not far from Sea World in the state of Queensland – at about 2pm local time on Monday.
Diane and Ron Hughes
Initial investigations suggest one helicopter taking off, which contained seven people, collided with another helicopter landing, which contained six people.
Mr and Mrs Hughes were on the helicopter with seven people on board. The 40-year-old pilot and a 36-year-old woman also died.
Queensland Police said the British couple were on holiday.
A 10-year-old boy is in a critical condition, while a 33-year-old woman and a nine-year-old boy are seriously injured.
The helicopter coming into land “remarkably” landed upright, despite damage to the front left section, where the pilot was sitting.
Five people sustained minor injuries, while the sixth was uninjured.
Diane Hughes’ brother, Dave Boyce, wrote on Facebook: “For those who don’t know my sister and her husband were involved in the helicopter crash on the Gold Coast yesterday.
“We would also like to thank you all for the love and support we have received. We are truly humbled at this heartbreaking time.”
“Australia is shocked by the news of the terrible and tragic helicopter incident today on the Gold Coast,” said Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in a tweet.
“My thoughts are with all those affected, including first responders, and my deepest sympathies are with those who are grieving.”
A witness told Melbourne radio station 3AW there was a “massive, massive bang” and staff at the theme park moved quickly to close off areas closest to the crash.
“It was just huge. I’m not sure if it was the propellers or whatever hitting against each other. But there was this poor lady and her son near the helipad in tears.”
Australian Transport Safety Bureau chief commissioner Angus Mitchell said the incident was a “tragic start to the new year”.
He explained that the main rotors of the helicopter taking off collided with the landing helicopter around 200m in the air, causing considerable damage to the front section.
During the process, the rotor blade and gearbox detached from the main body of the aircraft.
Mr Mitchell told reporters: “We are very fortunate that we’re not standing here with far more deaths.”
A sandbank made it difficult for emergency service workers to access the site of the crash.
Sea World Helicopters, a separate company from the theme park, expressed its condolences, saying it was “devastated” and was cooperating in the investigation.
A statement read: “We and the entire flying community are devastated by what has happened and our sincere condolences go to all those involved and especially the loved ones and family of the deceased.”