LtoR ABC journalist Paul Lockyer and ABC helicopter pilot Gary Ticehurst look at a map (resting on the ABC helicopter) while on a trip to Lake Eyre in May 2010. They, along with ABC cameraman John Bean (inset) are feared killed in a helicopter crash at Lake Eyre in Sth Australia, August 18, 2011. (ABC News)
SOUTH Australia Police do not expect any survivors from the crash of a helicopter carrying three veterans of ABC News.
Reporter Paul Lockyer, pilot Gary Ticehurst and cameraman John Bean were in the helicopter that crashed on Thursday night while they were filming a third documentary of Lake Eyre filling up with water.
"We are not expecting to find any survivors," Assistant Commissioner Neil Smith, of SA police, told reporters in Adelaide today .
Police had earlier confirmed that two people were dead and are searching for the third person believed to have been in the helicopter.
Eyewitnesses have described seeing the chopper going down in flames.
Mr Smith said identification of the dead would take some time and disaster identification experts had been sent to the area.
He said access to the area was difficult. The helicopter crashed on land, but the area is surrounded by water or boggy land.
"(The crash site) is spread over a fairly large distance. Just by the sheer intensity of the fire it is making it difficult and they have located some people at the scene," he said.
"We are not expecting to find any survivors, but we are through the thoroughness conducting further checks in that area.
"We are not expecting to have any positive news, any positive identification or the full extent of the detail for some time.
"It could take some days."
Before the crash, Mr Smith said the helicopter, carrying three people, had landed and those on board had a conversation with a tour guide and some people in the area, and then departed.
"When it was approximately two to three kilometres from the area, the tour guide ... noticed a large fire ball in the distance," he said.
He said the nurse and the guide used a boat to get to crash site, which was on dry land surrounded waters.
"They called police by satellite phone," Mr Smith said.
He said conditions in the area were difficult. The site was not accessible by vehicle and communications were sketchy.
"It's very difficult, it's harsh conditions, during the night it's very cold ... we need to helicopter people in and out," he said.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) will investigate the crash and is en route to the site.
Mr Smith said it would take several days to get a clear picture of what happened.
He said while it had been some since the crash "it's actually quite a short time given the location and what we are trying to achieve".
"We know that there was three people in the aircraft," Mr Smith said.
"We know there's no people there now, we are working through the crash site."
Mr Smith said police weren't able to confirm with the tour guide what the weather conditions were like when the helicopter went down.
"The information I have is that a helicopter took off and some distance away there was a fire ball," he said.