At least five dead after Istanbul helicopter crash

Seven people were on board the helicopter at the time

At least five dead after Istanbul helicopter crash

Firefighters work on the site shortly after a helicopter with seven people inside crashed in Istanbul's Buyukcekmece district. Picture by: Depo Photos/ABACA/ABACA/PA Images

A helicopter has crashed into a television tower in Istanbul in dense fog, killing at least five people.

The Sikorsky S-76 aircraft, owned by private firm Eczacibasi, crashed shortly after take off from the city's Ataturk Airport.

Taxi driver Fikret Karatekin told broadcaster CNN Turk the helicopter struck the tower before crashing on a road.

"It hit the tower and crashed by spinning," he said.

Seven people were on board at the time - four Russians and three Turkish nationals including an executive of Eczacibasi and two pilots.

Bulent Eczacibasi, chairman of the Turkish conglomerate which is involved in pharmaceuticals and building products, did not give any details as to who had survived the crash.

But he told reporters at the scene the Russians were clients who were being taken to a factory near the town of Bozuyuk, around 200 km south of the Turkish capital, when the aircraft came down.

The company executive was a Turkish national who headed the firm's operations in Russia, he added.

Vasip Sahin, the governor of Istanbul, confirmed at least five people had been killed, adding that the cause of the crash was being investigated.

Images posted on social media showed huge plumes of black smoke billowing from the crash scene in Buyukcekmece district.

Pieces of the helicopter lay scattered across the road, which was sealed-off by police as firefighters tackled the blaze.

Authorities have not ruled out a technical fault as the cause of the crash.

The tower, which is no longer used for transmitting television signals, now has a restaurant at the top.

Thick fog in the city has led to flights and ferry services being cancelled this month.