Police name New Zealand helicopter crash victims

New Zealand helicopter crash

Police have released the names of seven people - including four Britons - who were killed when a helicopter crashed into a glacier in New Zealand.

Andrew Virco, 50, and Katharine Walker, 51, both from Cambridge, and Nigel Charlton, 66, and Cynthia Charlton, 70, both from Hampshire, were aboard the sightseeing helicopter which crashed into a crevasse on the Fox Glacier, on the country's South Island, on Saturday morning.

Leang Sovannmony, 27, and Josephine Gibson, 29, both from South Australia, also perished along with helicopter pilot Mitchell Gameren, 28, from Queenstown, New Zealand.

The Foreign Office said the Britons killed were two couples.

"It is with regret we can confirm the deaths, in a helicopter crash in New Zealand on November 21, of Andrew Virco and his partner Katharine Walker, from Cambridge, and Nigel Charlton and his wife Cynthia from Hampshire," a spokesman said.

"We are providing consular assistance to their families at this difficult time."

New Zealand Police said formal identification of the victims would take some time.

The operation to recover the victims' bodies, which has been hampered by bad weather, is under way on Fox Glacier.

A Tasman police spokeman said: "The operation is extremely challenging and the safety of those working at the scene is of paramount importance."

He added: "Our thoughts are with the victims' families at this difficult time".