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Helicopter crashes onto roof of NYC building, pilot killed

A pilot has died after a helicopter crash landed into a building in Midtown Manhattan, NYPD officials confirmed.

Emergency crews responded to the incident at 787 Seventh Ave just before 2pm Monday as thick rain blanketed the area.

The FDNY tweeted that firefighters have extinguished the fire that was raging on top of the building as 'members continue to operate in response to fuel leaking from the helicopter'.

The pilot killed has not been named, and authorities have not said whether anyone else was on board. No additional injuries have been reported.

It remains unclear who owns the Agusta A109E helicopter or why it would have been trying to land on that building, which does not have a landing pad.

A source told CBS2 that the pilot reported that he was in trouble shortly before the aircraft went down.

A New York Fire Department source told 'The chopper is obliterated. I have just seen the roof. There is heavy fire damage and wreckage from the aircraft is strewn across it.

'I believe the dead victim is still inside the cockpit,' the source added.

Smoke was seen billowing from the top of the 51-story building as police ordered the evacuation of several structures in the area as a precaution.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo arrived on the scene soon after and said the number of people on the helicopter is unknown and that no one in the building was hurt.

'There was a helicopter that made a forced landing or an emergency landing on the roof of the building for one reason or the other,' he said.

'People in the building said they felt the building shake. It was hard landing.'

Cuomo said there is no indication the crash was intentional.

'If you are a New Yorker you have a level of PTSD from 9/11,' Cuomo said. 'As soon as you hear an aircraft hit a a building, my mind goes where the mind of every New Yorker goes.'

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio arrived on the scene later on.

Witnesses reported hearing a loud boom before flames erupted from the roof of the building.

Shauna Farrell was in a meeting on the 36th floor when she felt the impact, which sent her and her colleagues running for the exits.

'We ran down. I think we were the first floor to evacuate, actually, because we felt it so quickly,' Farrell told ABC News.

'There was already FDNY on the scene. We were kind of just running away from the building as quickly as we could.'

Laura Esquival, a hostess at the Ruth's Chris Steak House across the street from the crash site, told CNBC: 'I saw people running out. They were escorting everyone out.'

The Federal Aviation Administration issued the following statement on Twitter: 'We are gathering information about an accident involving a helicopter that crashed into a building in Midtown Manhattan.'

The agency said they will be releasing more details throughout the day as the investigation continues.

President Donald Trump tweeted that he had been briefed on the situation and praised first responders for their efforts to control the situation.

'THANK YOU for all you do 24/7/365! The Trump Administration stands ready should you need anything at all,' he wrote.

There does not appear to have been any significant damage to the structure of the building, which houses the AXA Equitable Center. Other tenants include BNP Paribas, Stifel, New Mountain Capital, Sidley Austin LLP, Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, UBS, and Citigroup.

The building is also home to the critically-acclaimed French restaurant La Bernardin, which announced that it will not be open to night due to the today's crash.

Pedro Rodriguez, a pastry line cook at Le Bernardin, said workers got an announcement telling everyone to exit, and he later heard from people around him that there was a fire on the roof.

The evacuation wasn't chaotic, Rodriguez said, but he was rattled because he immediately thought of the September 11 attacks.

'It's scary when something like this happens,' he said.

Alex Jacobs was working on the seventh floor when he alarm bells and an evacuation announcement went off. He and his coworkers, who hadn't heard or felt an impact, took the stairs to a fire exit.

'It's really unfortunate. I just hope everyone's okay,' he said.

President Trump tweeted that he had been briefed on the crash and praised first responders

New York City has a history of both minor and major helicopter wrecks and crash landings.

Last month, a helicopter crash landed in the Hudson River near a busy Manhattan heliport. The pilot escaped mostly unscathed.

Five people died when a sightseeing helicopter crashed into the East River last year. Three people died in another crash into the same river in 2011. Nine people died in a collision between a sightseeing helicopter and a small plane in 2009, not far from the scene of Monday's mishap.

The Reporter Newspaper
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