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Briton dies in NY helicopter crash

A British woman has been killed on a helicopter trip in New York organised to celebrate her 40th birthday.

Sonia Marra died after the helicopter plunged into New York's East River shortly after take-off on Tuesday.

The UK expatriate, who was living in Australia, was travelling with her partner Helen Tamaki, 43, and her British mother and stepfather Harriet and Paul Nicholson.

Ms Tamaki, believed to be a New Zealander, and Mrs Nicholson, 60, were seriously injured in the crash and are in a critical condition. The 56-year-old pilot and Mr Nicholson, 71, have been released from hospital.

The helicopter was on a private tour when it crashed into the river at 3.20pm local time, shortly after lifting off from the busy 34th Street Heliport.

It is believed Ms Marra, who lived in Sydney, was visiting New York with her family to celebrate her 40th birthday. Mr and Mrs Nicholson live in Portugal and the group, who had met in New York, were also reportedly celebrating Mr Nicholson's birthday.

According to reports, she was trapped inside the helicopter as it sank about 50 feet below the surface of the swift-moving water. The Foreign Office confirmed her death.

The NYPD confirmed that the two injured female passengers were in a critical condition in New York's Bellevue Hospital. A spokesman from New York City Fire Department said one of the injured women had suffered a cardiac arrest and the other a respiratory arrest.

The American pilot, Paul Dudley, director of Linden Airport in New Jersey, and Mr Nicholson were discharged from hospital after being examined by doctors, police said.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said it had been "a terrible accident" involving people who had come "to see the best of our city".

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