AustraliaFears of crash after helicopter 'disappeared off radar' at Anna Bay
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Madeline Rodway vanished from near the Pacific Highway at Crows Nest, Sydney, at around midday on Thursday, August 29.
A private helicopter is believed to have crashed in waters off Anna Bay in Port Stephens after authorities said it "faded off the radar" on Friday night.
A large-scale search is taking place out to sea after police were advised about 6.30pm that an aircraft had disappeared off Williamstown Airport's flight radar, a NSW Police spokeswoman said.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said the missing aircraft was a private helicopter, and initial reports suggested four people were on board the chopper, which operated out of Coffs Harbour.
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Officers from Port Stephens Police District and the Marine Area Command, along with Marine Rescue and other aerial support, were conducting a large-scale search of the area.
Marina Neil, a photographer with the Newcastle Herald, said a police boat, helicopter and other resources were searching the water more than a kilometre out to sea off Birubi Beach in Anna Bay.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which is coordinating the search, deployed its search-and-rescue aircraft out of Melbourne and was conducting flyovers of the area.
A Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service spokesman said one of its helicopters was in the air as well.
'Some wreckage' located in search for missing NSW helicopter
Four people are feared dead after the chopper crashed into the water near Newcastle last night.
"Our aircraft is still up in the air in that area after the report of an aircraft crash," he said at 9pm.
"There was a call through air traffic control at Williamtown, that they'd lost contact with an aircraft."
The NSW Incident Alerts page on Facebook said debris had "been spotted by Marine Rescue crews during the search". That information is yet to be confirmed.
The Bureau of Meteorology issued a severe weather warning on Friday night for the region where the aircraft lost contact. It warned of damaging, locally destructive winds with peak gusts in excess of 125km/h and average gusts of 80km/h-90km/h.
It said a strong cold front from the west was sweeping across the state, generating the vigorous westerly winds.
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