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Five reported killed in fiery Tennessee helicopter crash

Reuters Reuters 4/04/2016

April 4 (Reuters) - Five people were killed on Monday when a sightseeing helicopter crashed and burned in a Smoky Mountains area of eastern Tennessee, authorities said.

No one on the ground was injured in the crash, said Tennessee Emergency Management Agency spokesman Dean Flener. He confirmed that five people were killed, but had no further information on the incident.

The owner of Smoky Mountain Helicopters said the crash occurred in Sevier County, about 200 miles east of Nashville, local TV station WVLT reported.

"(It's) just a burnt mess ... there's not much left," Jack Baldwin, the chief of police in Pigeon Forge, was quoted as saying by TV station WBIR.

Police and the helicopter company could not be immediately reached for comment.

Smoke rises from the scene of a helicopter crash on April 4, 2016, near Sevierville, Tenn. © @Taylorleo13/Twitter.com Smoke rises from the scene of a helicopter crash on April 4, 2016, near Sevierville, Tenn. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said local authorities notified them that a Bell 206 sightseeing helicopter crashed near Sevierville at 3:30 p.m. The helicopter was destroyed by fire, local authorities told the FAA.

The FAA did not have details on fatalities and was awaiting information from the scene.

The helicopter company has been offering sightseeing flights of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and surrounding areas since 1964, according to its website.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas, and Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Chris Reese and Sandra Maler)

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