The area covers 15 city blocks and two avenues and also includes New York's iconic Times Square and many Broadway theatres. As footage showed authorities blocking off roads and fire trucks and police vehicles surrounding the building, police urged the public to avoid the area "due to an ongoing police investigation".
Police and fire officials work at the crash site of a New York Airways helicopter crash atop Pan American building in New York.
He described the helicopter as "obliterated". "It was obviously a very hard hit", de Blasio said during the briefing. It was not clear if limited visibility due to the weather was a contributing factor.
Nicolas Estevez was across the street when a 30cm piece of metal that appeared to be from the helicopter landed just metres away on the footpath. After making it down 10 flights of stairs, he found that the staircase was filled with other evacuees as people had crowded the building's lobby and were not dispersing.
"I couldn't tell if the smoke preceded the helicopter coming over, or if it was from the helicopter crashing into the building", he said. "I mean, some serious 9/11 vibes", he said, referring to the 2001 terror attacks in which hijackers flew planes into the city's World Trade Center Towers.
Recent York City Mayor Invoice de Blasio told reporters later that the one fatality became believed to the pilot. The fire on top of the building has since been brought under control.
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"I was just doing what I was supposed to do and I felt the building shake". According to initial information relayed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, the aircraft attempted to make a "forced landing" on the roof of the 54-story AXA Equitable building at 787 Seventh Avenue between 51st and 52nd Streets.
The building, the AXA Equitable Centre, was evacuated after the crash.
The skyscraper is managed by Los Angeles-based CommonWealth Partners.
"We are pretty shocked we hope everyone is OK and safe", said Ron Magee, 55, a real estate agent on vacation from Las Vegas with his family.
Today, helicopters come and go from three heliports on the island's periphery, carrying business travelers, government officials and tourists.
Eyewitnesses have reported hearing the "too-low" helicopter passing overhead in the moments before the crash.
It was not immediately known what type of helicopter was involved.