"The helicopter was totally lost, totally broken," said Milton Strachan Jr., the owner of a fuel aviation company who watched Monday night's rescue near George Town airport on Great Exuma island.
U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Jeff Murphy in Miami said the fatalities apparently were wives of two of three servicemen on the chopper. The identities of those involved were withheld until relatives could be notified.
The UH-60 helicopter was based at Fort Stewart, Ga., and deployed to the Bahamas as part of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency's Operation Bahamas and Turks, the U.S. Southern Command said in a release early Tuesday. The U.S. Army has a base at the George Town airport, about 300 miles southeast of Miami.
Two of the men were airlifted to the private Doctors Hospital in New Providence, on the main island of Nassau, a hospital spokesman there said. The third man was evacuated to a hospital in Miami. No information on their conditions was immediately available.