According to the FDNY and @NYScanner, a helicopter is down near the FDR Drive at 34th Street and the East River and there are three people currently trapped inside. A FDNY rep noted that it was most likely a commercial helicopter because of the nearby 34th Street Heliport. We'll update as we know more, but here's streaming video.
[UPDATE / 3:44] We're receiving wire reports that a diving team has extracted five people from the helicopter, one is unconscious. It's unclear how many more are still trapped inside.
[UPDATE / 3:51] The FDNY confirms with us that the three people who have been extracted are injured two critically, and all have been rushed to Bellevue Hospital. Wire reports suggest that there were a total of five people inside the helicopter when it crashed.
[UPDATE / 4:05] FDNY confirms that four people have been pulled out of the helicopter: two woman, both in serious condition at Bellevue Hospital, one man who was rushed to NYU in critical condition, and another victim being treated at the scene. Wire reports suggest there is one woman still unaccounted for, and FDR Drive remains closed. The downed helicopter is around 30 feet from the Manhattan seawall.
[UPDATE / 4:32] According to the FDNY the two women at Bellevue are in "critical" condition, while the man at NYU is in "serious" condition. Authorities are still trying to determine whether or not there is one more woman still trapped in the helicopter. Not surprisingly, the East River ferry is not offering service to Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Long Island City or 34th Street.
[UPDATE / 4:50] The fifth passenger in the helicopter has been recovered, but their condition is still unknown at this time. NBC reports that the helicopter contained four tourists from England and a pilot. "It went down pretty fast, you could see the splash, you could see the top of it and it just disappeared," said the manager of NYC Water Club, who witnessed the incident. "It looked like it was trying to land at the heliport and missed the landing."
NYPD spokesman Paul Brown said that the helicopter, a Bell Jet Ranger, had just taken off and was returning due to "unknown issues in the air." The helicopter is not owned by a touring company.
[UPDATE / 4:56] According to the Daily News, the NYPD is stating that the pilot was highly experienced and "made it shore on his own."
[UPDATE / 5:03] While @FDNYNews writes that the fifth passenger of the helicopter has died, the FDNY spokesman we talked to "can not confirm that information." We were told that Mayor Bloomberg will address the media at the heliport soon.
[UPDATE / 5:09] The Daily News confirms that the fifth passenger has died.
[UPDATE / 5:22]NBC notes that the pilot of the helicopter, Paul Dudley, landed his Cessna in a park near Coney Island in 2006 when he detected mechcanical trouble. He was also interviewed by the New York Times as a veteran pilot who knows how to navigate the crowded skies above the Hudson River.
[UPDATE / 5:55] The passenger who died has been identified as a woman, and the Daily News reports that she was trapped inside the helicopter as it sunk into the water upside down.