Billionaire coal tycoon among 7 dead in helicopter crash

A self-made billionaire was among seven Americans killed in a helicopter crash off the coast of the Bahamas.

Coal tycoon Chris Cline died just one day before his 61st birthday when the helicopter he was on crashed near Grand Clay island on Thursday evening, killing everyone on board.

The aircraft went missing shortly after leaving Big Grand Cay and authorities and local residents later found the crash site two miles off the island, a statement from the Royal Bahamas Police Force said.

Officers identified those killed as four women and three men from the US, but did not provide names.

Police said the bodies have been taken to the Bahamian capital of Nassau to be officially identified.

Superintendent Shanta Knowles said officers responded to a missing aircraft report from Florida, and were told that billionaire Mr Cline and a group of Americans from Big Grand Cay failed to arrive in Fort Lauderdale.

The helicopter failed to reach Fort Lauderdale, pictures
Image: The helicopter failed to reach Fort Lauderdale, pictured

Governor Jim Justice was quoted as saying that Mr Cline was among those killed by the Register-Herald newspaper in Beckley, West Virginia.

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The newspaper described the former coal miner from Virginia as a “billionaire mining entrepreneur”, “coal tycoon” and “benefactor to southern West Virginia”.

“West Virginia lost a super star, without any question,” the newspaper quoted Gov Justice as saying.

“A giving, good man. I just love him with all my soul.

“As governor, I will tell you we’ve lost a great West Virginian.”

Gov Justice told the newspaper he could not yet officially identify anyone else who died in the crash.

Aviation safety investigators in the Bahamas are working to determine the cause of the crash.

Safety analyst Jaime Nixon said there is a specialised ship coming from Florida with equipment to pull the helicopter from the water.

The Bahamas Civil Aviation Authority told the Federal Aviation Administration that the Augusta AW139 helicopter was located in the water at around 7pm on Thursday.

Mr Cline, a father-of-four, has been a major donor to Republican politicians and was considered to have been responsible for reviving the Illinois coal industry.

His net worth in 2017 was estimated at $1.9bn ($1.472bn).

Source: SKY NEWS

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