Horrifying pictures of Kobe Bryant's helicopter wreckage [PHOTOS]

An NTSB official inspecting the remains of a helicopter which crashed near Calabasa, California. [Courtesy]
Horrifying pictures of investigators picking through the Kobe Bryant helicopter wreckage highlights the full extent of the deadly impact of the crash.

Only a small section of the Sikorsky S-76 chopper appears intact, while fire scorched debris and mounds of ash are seen strewn in and around a crater in the California hillside where it came down on Sunday morning.

There are also tyres and mechanisms in and around the centralised wreckage - with pieces of the helicopter said to have spread as far as the length of a football pitch.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators, wearing surgical masks as they inspect the wreckage are seen close up while footage from an overhead drone puts the crash site into perspective.

SEE ALSO :Nine people dead in Kobe Bryant helicopter crash: official

An investigator is seen leaning over into the mounds of wreckage and she is then seen inspecting a piece on the perimeter of the site.

In addition to Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, three other families linked to the Mamba Sports Academy perished on their way to a girls' basketball tournament: husband and wife John and Keri Altobelli with their 13-year-old daughter Alyssa; Sarah Chester and her 13-year-old daughter Payton; and basketball coach and mum Christina Mauser.

The ninth victim was the pilot, Ara Zobayan, an experienced former flight instructor who was instrument-rated, or qualified to fly in fog, according to multiple media accounts.

The bodies of all the nine victims of the crash near Calabasa have now been recovered, say coroners. [Courtesy]

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Los Angeles County coroner's investigators, working alongside aviation NTSB inspectors, with coroners confirming on Monday all the bodies have been recovered.

The remains were "removed from the crash site and transported to the department's forensic science center" for examination and identification, the Los Angeles County coroner's office said in a statement.

SEE ALSO :Kobe Bryant’s final tweet hours before dying in helicopter crash

"On Sunday afternoon, personnel from the department’s Special Operations Response Team (SORT) recovered three bodies from the helicopter wreckage located in the 4200 block of Las Virgenes Road in Calabasas," it continued.

"The next day, the search continued for the other six helicopter occupants. Soon after, their bodies were located, removed from the crash site and transported to the department’s Forensic Science Center.

Debris from spread as far as the length of a football pitch, though much of it is focused around a crater, created on impact.[Courtesy]
"Currently, investigators are actively working on identifying the decedents. Additionally, body examinations are in progress.

"The Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner will provide immediate updates on the names of the decedents as soon as they are officially verified and their next of kin have been notified."

Bryant's body has been formally identified today, after investigators used fingerprints to identify the 41-year-old, along with two other men and a woman, the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner said in a statement.

SEE ALSO :The 29-year-old helicopter in which Kobe Bryant and his daughter died

Bryant's 13-year-old daughter Gianna's body has not been identified.

It is currently unclear what exactly caused the crash, with the helicopter coming down in heavy fog. [Courtesy]
"Investigators are still working on identifying the five remaining (bodies)," the coroner added.

It is believed that investigators are currently focusing on the weather conditions, trying to establish whether the foggy conditions were the cause behind the tragic incident, or whether they may have been a mechanical fault with the aircraft.

The company that owns the chopper, Island Express Helicopters, said the pilot had more than 10 years of experience and has logged more than 8,000 flight hours.

Reports have also emerged claiming that the helicopter flying Bryant and Co plummeted nearly 500 feet in just 15 seconds before smashing into an LA hillside.

Drone footage helps to put the crash site into perspective, in the valley between the Santa Monica Mountains. [Courtesy]

SEE ALSO :Kobe Bryant tributes led by Barack Obama , CR7 and Michael Jordan

The chopper is said to have caught fire after going down, as emergency services battled in vain to save those on board.

Audio between the pilot and air traffic controllers reveals he was given permission to fly under special visual flight rules or SVFR, despite the treacherous fog.

But he was forced to circle for a quarter of an hour while the air space was cleared by controllers.

Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant at a basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Dallas Mavericks. [Courtesy]
Thick fog engulfed the flight path and conditions continued to worsen in the minutes after takeoff at 9.06 am, with Mr. Zobayan then circling over Burbank from 9.20 am.

Remaining in constant contact with air traffic control at Burbank Airport, the helicopter then asked the Van Nuys Tower if it could rotate southwest at 9.39 am which was approved.

Mr. Zobayan had been given special permission to navigate the difficult conditions by sight without reliance on instruments, and after the maneouvre he confirmed he had regained flight visuals.

Matt Mauser said he always felt nervous when wife Christina flew in the chopper. [Courtesy]
The helicopter then began to accent to 1,500 feet before dropping back down at 9.42 am to allow the aircraft to show up on the correct frequency as per requests from air traffic controllers.

However, there was then no response from the pilot for two minutes and 40 seconds before the helicopter plummeted to the ground, the tower said: "You're still too low for flight following at this time."

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