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Tycoon's crashed helicopter caused by tail problem

By Staff
|
Google Oneindia News

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic, Oct 13 (Reuters) A problem with the helicopter's tail may have caused the crash that killed hotel and casino tycoon Howard ''Butch'' Kerzner, Dominican authorities said.

Kerzner, the chief executive of privately held Kerzner International Holdings Ltd, and three others died when the helicopter went down in bad weather in the Dominican Republic on Wednesday.

A statement issued by the Dominican civil aviation authority said a loosening or total loss of the helicopter's tail section was the ''principal cause'' of the crash, according to ''preliminary'' findings.

''This is consistent with some witnesses who say the aircraft, after losing some of its parts in mid-flight, went into an uncontrolled spin,'' civil aviation spokesman Angel de la Rosa said in the written statement yesterday.

Parts of the helicopter were found 200 feet (60 metres) from the area where it crashed, near the north coast resort area of Puerto Plata.

Helipuertos Dominicanos, the company that owned the helicopter, had no immediate comment and was awaiting the findings of an independent probe by its British-based insurer, said a company executive who asked not to be identified.

Earlier, the company's president, George Manuel Hazoury, denied a report that said the helicopter exploded in mid-flight and lost its tail section.

Kerzner, 42, who left a wife and two children, was heading his company's ambitious expansion. Kerzner International was nearing completion of a massive improvement project at its Atlantis Paradise Island casino resort in the Bahamas and is building a second 1.5 billion dollar Atlantis resort in Dubai.

It is also bidding to build a casino on Singapore's Sentosa island. Kerzner's partner in the project, CapitaLand , said it intended to go ahead with the bid despite Kerzner's death.

Butch Kerzner's father, Sol Kerzner, the South African gaming tycoon who created Sun City and founded Kerzner International, was in the Dominican Republic to arrange to transport his son's body out of the country.

Bahamian Prime Minister Perry Christie described the younger Kerzner as a ''visionary developer with a 21st century plan'' and said his death was a major loss for the Bahamas.

The company appointed board member Paul O'Neil as acting CEO.

REUTERS DH PM0502

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