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Coast Guard Searching For Missing Tour Helicopter With 7 People Onboard In Hawaii

(CNN) –The US Coast Guard continues to search for a helicopter that went missing with seven people on board after a tour off Kauai’s Napali coast in...

(CNN) –The US Coast Guard continues to search for a helicopter that went missing with seven people on board after a tour off Kauai’s Napali coast in Hawaii late Thursday.

Multiple crews were ready to search the area at first light Friday by air and sea, the Coast Guard said in a news release. Multiple agencies were involved, including the US Navy and the Kauai Fire Department, which is conducting inland searches and coordinating a ground search of the shoreline.

“There are no signs of the helicopter,” the Coast Guard’s news release said.

The owner of the helicopter company reached out to the Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Honolulu when the aircraft didn’t return from a tour of the Napali coast, the Coast Guard previously said. One pilot and six passengers were on the helicopter and two of those passengers are believed to be minors.

The last communication came around 4:40 p.m. local time, Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Sara Muir told CNN Friday, about 40 minutes before the helicopter was due to return. At that time, it was leaving Waimeia Canyon, Muir said.

Muir identified the helicopter company as Safari Helicopters. When reached by CNN, Safari Helicopters confirmed its helicopter was missing but wouldn’t provide additional details.

The aircraft is equipped with an electronic locator, Muir said, but officials haven’t received any signal from it.

The Coast Guard said it was notified of the missing helicopter just after 6 p.m. and launched a MH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopter crew, a cutter and other resources.

Petty Officer 1st Class Robert Cox, of Coast Guard Joint Rescue Command Center Honolulu, previously said weather conditions in the search area were “challenging,” with low visibility and blustery winds, according to CNN affiliate KHNL/KGMB.

“There was a cold front that came through the area around that time, bringing scattered showers and an increase of wind gusts,” CNN meteorologist Robert Shackelford said.

Several tour companies conduct helicopter tours every day on Kauai, depending on the weather, the Coast Guard said. Nearly 80% of the island — sometimes called the “Garden Island” — is uninhabited. Some parts are only accessible by sea or air, according to Hawaii’s travel website.

Earlier this year, three people were killed on the island of Oahu when their tour helicopter crashed in a residential neighborhood.