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Five people have been killed after a helicopter crashed into rugged terrain in regional Victoria this morning.

Police said a pilot and four passengers were on board the helicopter, all of whom died at the crash scene near Mt Disappointment, an hour north of Melbourne’s CBD.

Police announced the tragic update just after 7.30pm.

Police were winched down to the crash site to access the accident. (Nine)
The dense bushland made accessing the crash site difficult. (Nine)

They said the crash victims were:

– A 32-year-old man from Cheltenham, Victoria
– A 50-year-old woman from Inverloch, Victoria
– A 73-year-old man from Albert Park, Victoria
– A 59-year-old man from New South Wales
– A 70-year-old man from New South Wales

“It’s believed the chartered helicopter had taken off from Moorabbin Airport before picking up passengers in Batman Park, Melbourne about 7am,” Victoria Police said.

“The flight was destined for Ulupna, located in northern Victoria.

“Police Air Wing located the wreckage in the vicinity of Blair’s Hut about 11.45am on 31 March.”

Police said the cause of the crash was still unknown.

The area where the helicopter crashed is covered by such dense bush that police had been unable to access it by ground or land a helicopter nearby.

Bulldozers and an excavator were required to clear a path to the crash site during the search and rescue operation.

Rescuers had to be winched from a police helicopter down to the crash site, near Blair’s Hut.

State Emergency Service volunteers, paramedics, police and Fire Forest Management workers set up a staging point more than 8km from the wreckage.

A damaged tree has been seen near the crash site. (Nine)

The helicopter was one of two travelling north in convoy from Melbourne’s CBD over when it disappeared just after 9.30am, according to Victoria Police.

It was believed to be carrying a group of cattle farmers headed to Yarrawonga.

The second helicopter landed without incident at Moorabbin Airport in Melbourne’s south-east.

Both Microflite Helicopter Services aircraft took off from the banks of the Yarra River in Melbourne CBD near Crown just before 8am.

Microflite Helicopter Services’ executive general manager Rodney Higgins said the private charter flight that crashed was being flown by a highly respected pilot.

There are fears a helicopter has crashed in rural Victoria with several passengers on board.
Emergency services are searching near Mt Disappointment. (9News)

He said the charter lost communication with the other helicopter just after 8am, with the incident then immediately reported to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority in accordance with standard protocols.

Mr Higgins said the company would cooperate with extensive investigations into what had occurred.

“I extend my deepest condolences to all affected by this incident,” he said.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is sending a team from Canberra and Melbourne to investigate the incident.

“Once on site, they will examine the wreckage and site surrounds, and will retrieve any relevant components for further examination in the ATSB’s technical facilities in Canberra,” ATSB Chief Commissioner Angus Mitchell said.

“The ATSB will also analyse any recorded data and conduct interviews with those who have knowledge of the flight.”

A police helicopter had been searching for the missing helicopter. (Nine)
Ambulance crews are on scene. (Nine)

Mr Mitchell said the ATSB expected to publish a preliminary report about the crash in six to eight weeks’ time.

“However, at any stage should we identify critical safety issues we will immediately notify relevant parties so appropriate safety action can be taken,” he said.

The area where the crash has occurred was covered with low cloud and smoke from recent bushfire burn-offs.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said heavy fog and cloud hampered the aerial search for the crash this morning.

Source: 9News

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