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UPDATE: Officials in Hawaii find crashed tour helicopter that had 7 people on board

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Posted at 6:18 AM, Dec 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-27 17:55:28-05

UPDATE (2 p.m.) - The site where a tour helicopter crashed on Kauai, Hawaii, has been found, according to the Kauai Police Department.

One pilot and six passengers, including two children, were on Thursday's flight.

The crash site was in a state park on the island's northwest side, police said Friday in a news release. The search for possible survivors is ongoing.

Multiple agencies, including the US Coast Guard, the US Navy and the Kauai Fire Department, were involved in searching for the helicopter. They were conducting inland searches and coordinating a ground search of the shoreline. Other private helicopter companies were aiding in the search.

The last communication from the pilot came around 4:40 p.m. local time, Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Sara Muir told CNN Friday, about 40 minutes before the helicopter was due to return. At that time, the aircraft was leaving Waimeia Canyon, Muir said.

Safari Helicopters has confirmed its helicopter was missing but declined to provide additional details.

The aircraft was equipped with an electronic locator, but officials did not receive a signal from it, Muir said.

The Coast Guard said it was notified of the missing helicopter just after 6 p.m. and launched a MH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopter crew, a cutter and other resources.

Petty Officer 1st Class Robert Cox, of Coast Guard Joint Rescue Command Center Honolulu, previously said weather conditions in the search area were "challenging," with low visibility and blustery winds, according to CNN affiliate KHNL/KGMB.

"There was a cold front that came through the area around that time, bringing scattered showers and an increase of wind gusts," CNN meteorologist Robert Shackelford said.

Several tour companies conduct helicopter tours every day on Kauai, depending on the weather, the Coast Guard said. Nearly 80% of the island — sometimes called the "Garden Island" — is uninhabited. Some parts are only accessible by sea or air, according to Hawaii's travel website.

Earlier this year, three people were killed on the island of Oahu when their tour helicopter crashed in a residential neighborhood.
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(6:18 a.m.) - Coast Guard crews are searching for a helicopter with seven people onboard that failed to return from a tour off Kauai's Napali coast in Hawaii late Thursday.

The owner of the helicopter company reached out to the Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Honolulu when the aircraft didn't return from a tour of the Napali coast, the Coast Guard said in a news release.

One pilot and six passengers were on the helicopter and two of those passengers are believed to be minors.

Petty Officer 1st Class Robert Cox, of Coast Guard Joint Rescue Command Center Honolulu, said weather conditions in the search area are "challenging" with low visibility and blustery winds, according to CNN affiliate KHNL/KGMB.

"There was a cold front that came through the area around that time, bringing scattered showers and an increase of wind gusts," CNN meteorologist Robert Shackelford said.

The aircraft is equipped with an electronic locator, but no signals have been received, officials said.

The Coast Guard said it has launched a MH-65 Dolphin helicopter, a cutter and other resources to search for the missing helicopter. Additional searches are scheduled at first light, KHNL/KGMB reported .

The current winds are around 14 mph with gusts up to 25 mph with light rain and Friday's wind forecast is 14-20 mph with gusts up to 28 mph and scattered showers are in the forecast, Shackelford said.