3 Dead After Airplane, Helicopter Collide in Mid-Air in New Zealand

Three people were killed after a light plane and a helicopter collided in mid-air north of New Zealand's capital Sunday, police said.

Two men in the helicopter on a training flight were killed when it slammed into a building after its tail brushed the wing of the airplane, emergency workers said.

The pilot of the light airplane survived the crash, but died later in a hospital from multiple injuries, police said.

The helicopter was crippled by the collision and crashed onto the roof of a hardware store in the coastal settlement of Paraparaumu, said a police spokesman, who was not authorized to speak to media about the crash.

Nobody inside the building was hurt.

The light plane crashed onto a street, narrowly missing a house. The pilot, the sole occupant, was taken to a hospital in critical condition but died later, emergency services said.

Australian tourist Ben McGee said he helped pull the pilot from the wreckage. He said the plane's engine was torn from the fuselage by the collision.

"The plane was upside down ... but he wasn't moving. He was still breathing, I could hear him breathing and whimpering," McGee told National Radio. "I asked him what his name was but he wasn't answering."

Local residents used garden hoses to wash away leaking fuel as emergency workers cut the injured man from the wreckage, he said.

The collision happened about 200 meters (650 feet) from the runway at Paraparaumu Airport, a small local airfield.

Helicopter company Helipro said a student pilot and an experienced flight instructor on a training flight died in the chopper.

Chief Executive Rick Lucas said the pilots of the two aircraft had seen each other and had exchanged "standard" radio messages before the crash.