Image source, Jim Weber/The New MexicanImage caption, Alec Baldwin said he was fully co-operating with the police

Actor Alec Baldwin has expressed his shock and sadness after fatally shooting cinematographer Halyna Hutchins with a prop gun on a New Mexico film set.

He tweeted that he was in touch with her husband and had offered support.

"My heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and loved Halyna," he wrote.

Ms Hutchins, 42, was shot on the set of the western Rust while working as director of photography.

"There are no words to convey my shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident that took the life of Halyna Hutchins, a wife, mother and deeply admired colleague of ours," he tweeted.

"I'm fully co-operating with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred."

Ms Hutchins was flown to hospital by helicopter after the shooting on Thursday afternoon but died of her injuries.

Director Joel Souza, 48, was injured and taken from the scene at Bonanza Creek Ranch by ambulance.

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A spokesman for Mr Baldwin, best known for his role as Jack Donaghy on the NBC sitcom 30 Rock and for his portrayal of Donald Trump on sketch show Saturday Night Live, said the incident involved the misfiring of a prop gun with blanks.

Police are trying to establish what type of projectile left the prop gun and how. Local media reported that Mr Baldwin was seen outside the Santa Fe County sheriff's office in tears.

Media caption, The director who worked with Halyna Hutchins on the 2020 action film Archenemy says her death is "unfathomable"

The actor is a co-producer of Rust and plays its namesake, an outlaw whose 13-year-old grandson is convicted of manslaughter.

The eldest of four brothers, all actors, Mr Baldwin has starred in numerous TV and film roles since the 1980s.

Ms Hutchins was from Ukraine and grew up on a Soviet military base in the Arctic Circle, according to her personal website. She studied journalism in Kyiv, and film in Los Angeles, and was named a "rising star" by the American Cinematographer magazine in 2019.

She was the director of photography for the 2020 action film Archenemy, directed by Adam Egypt Mortimer.

"I'm so sad about losing Halyna. And so infuriated that this could happen on a set," Mr Mortimer said in a tweet.

In a statement, the International Cinematographer's Guild said Ms Hutchins' death was "devastating news" and "a terrible loss".

"The details are unclear at this moment, but we are working to learn more, and we support a full investigation into this tragic event," said guild president John Lindley and executive director Rebecca Rhine.

Police said sheriff's deputies were dispatched to Bonanza Creek Ranch, a popular filming location, at around 13:50 local time (19:50 GMT) on Thursday after receiving an emergency call.

Such incidents on film sets are extremely rare, but not unheard of.

Real firearms are often used in filming, and are loaded with blanks – cartridges that create a flash and a bang without discharging a projectile.

In 1993, Brandon Lee – the 28-year-old son of the late martial-arts star Bruce Lee – died on set after being accidentally shot with a prop gun while filming a death scene for the film The Crow. The gun mistakenly had a dummy round loaded in it.

Responding to Thursday's news, Brandon Lee's sister Shannon tweeted: "Our hearts go out to the family of Halyna Hutchins and to Joel Souza and all involved in the incident on 'Rust'. No-one should ever be killed by a gun on a film set. Period."