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Recovery crews enter Grand Canyon

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PHOENIX — Recovery crews hiked into the Grand Canyon on Sunday to reach the remains of a tour helicopter that crashed with seven people aboard, including at least four international tourists. Authorities said there were no survivors.

The helicopter went down Saturday afternoon in the western reaches of the Grand Canyon. It was flying tourists to a helipad along the Colorado River, where they were to board a pontoon boat, said Jim Granquist, CEO of Las Vegas-based Sundance Helicopters Inc., which operated the aircraft.

The helicopter burst into flames upon impact, according to the Mohave County Sheriff's Office.

The French-made Aerospatiale helicopter had taken off from the Grand Canyon West Airport, near Peach Springs, Ariz., with the pilot and six passengers aboard, FAA officials said. Passengers flew by plane from Las Vegas to board the helicopter.

Two of the passengers were Japanese citizens and at least two others were German tourists, said Carlos Rooks, a spokesman for the sheriff's office. He said the pilot was also Japanese. According to the Japanese consulate in Los Angeles, the pilot was a Japanese citizen who was a permanent legal resident of the United States.

Neither authorities nor Granquist would release identities of the victims pending family notification.