UPDATE 1 – Helicopter carrying 7 people crashes near the Grand Canyon

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A tour helicopter carrying seven people has crashed at the Grand Canyon in Arizona, killing at least three people, local and federal officials say. The fate of the other people on board was not immediately known.

The accident happened just before 5:30 p.m. MT on Saturday when the Eurocopter EC130 went down on the southern side of the Grand Canyon in the Hualapai Indian reservation. A total of seven people are believed to have been on board the helicopter.

The Hualapai Nation Police Department confirmed that three people were killed in the crash, but there was no immediate word on the conditions of the other four. A photo from the scene showed a fire burning at the crash site.

“The aircraft sustained substantial damage,” said Allen Kenitzer, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). It was not immediately known who was on board the helicopter or which company was operating it.

KSNV-TV reported that the helicopter belonged to Las Vegas-based sightseeing company Papillon, which has offered flights to the Grand Canyon since 1965. It has a fleet of 48 planes and helicopters and flies an estimated 600,000 passengers each year, according to the company’s website.

There was no immediate word on the possible cause of the crash. Both the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will investigate the circumstances of Saturday’s accident, Kenitzer said.

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