UNITED States police boats and divers recovered a piece of a submerged helicopter and a fourth body early yesterday as investigators resumed their search for debris and bodies from the helicopter and a small plane that collided, raining wreckage into the Hudson River near New York City on Saturday.

Investigators also renewed their search for pictures and video of the accident, which was seen by thousands out enjoying a beautiful summer day.

Nine people – three in the private plane, five Italian tourists and a pilot in the Liberty Tours helicopter – are presumed to have died in Saturday’s collision, the city’s worst air disaster since a 2001 commercial jet crash in Queens that killed 265 people. Three bodies had been recovered by Saturday afternoon.

National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Debbie Hersman said a nearby helicopter pilot saw the plane approaching the helicopter and tried to alert his fellow chopper pilot.

“He radioed the accident helicopter and told him, ‘One-lima-hotel. You have a fixed-wing behind you.’ There was no response from the pilot,” Hersman said.

The pilot then saw the plane’s right wing clip the helicopter, and both aircraft split apart and fell into the river, she said.

The two aircraft went down just south of the stretch of river where a US Airways jet landed safely seven months ago.

But this time, there was no miracle.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the midair crash was “unsurvivable.”

Yesterday morning, New York Police Department boats circled buoys that marked the wreckage of the helicopter, about 91 meters from the waterfront in Hoboken, a city in the state of New Jersey.

Hersman said poor visibility and the river’s currents hampered divers’ efforts to recover bodies and wreckage.

She said she did not know if there were black boxes or other recording devices on the two aircraft. Aircraft of their size are not required to have such equipment.

Hersman said investigators were hoping to find photos and video of the accident that could help them determine what happened.

A handful of photos have surfaced in the media, including at least one showing the moment of impact.

The accident happened in a busy general aviation corridor over the river where pilots are generally free to pick their own route, as long as they stay under 305 meters and don’t stray too close to Manhattan’s skyscrapers.

The skies over the river are often filled with pleasure craft, buzzing by for a view of the Statue of Liberty.

In January, the river was the scene of a spectacular aircraft landing that resulted in no loss of life after a US Airways flight taking off from LaGuardia Airport, in Queens, slammed into a flock of birds and lost power in both engines. The plane crash-landed on the river, and all 155 people on board were pulled to safety.

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