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Rescuers begin retrieving 7 copter victims in Hawaii

SHARE Rescuers begin retrieving 7 copter victims in Hawaii

WAILUKU, Hawaii — Rescue crews began the grim and dangerous task Saturday of retrieving the bodies of seven people killed when a tour helicopter crashed on a steep mountain hillside.

A 10-man crew was set to rappel down from the helicopter to a ridge and then set new lines to rappel to the site at the 2,700-foot level.

"There's no place a helicopter can land, so the men are rappelling down," said Lt. John Morioka, a spokesman for the Maui Police Department.

The crash Friday of the Blue Hawaiian Helicopters twin-engine AS355 occurred in a remote area of Iao Valley on Maui. Photos of the scene show the tail section intact, but the rest of the helicopter disintegrated into pieces.

The crash site has a deep slope of about 30 degrees and is a wet and slick area, making it difficult for crews to gain access. Among the recovery team are a master rappeller and crews who take part in eradicating marijuana from remote areas.