Police said at least eight people were killed when a helicopter carrying 16 people from a North Sea offshore oilfield crashed off the coast of Scotland. The remaining eight passengers are still missing, rescuers said.
AFP - At least eight people died when a helicopter carrying 16 people from an offshore oilfield crashed off the northeast coast of Scotland on Wednesday, police said.
Rescuers retrieved eight bodies from the North Sea, while the remaining eight people on board were missing, police said.
"We can confirm that eight bodies have been recovered from the North Sea after a helicopter came down around 35 miles (56 kilometres) off the coast of Crimond," a statement said.
"The remaining eight persons are unaccounted for," it added.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said the helicopter went down just before 2:00 pm (1300 GMT).
Oil giant BP said the helicopter was operating on its behalf, carrying 14 passengers and two crew, but did not immediately confirm the deaths.
A BP spokesman said the helicopter had been flying from the Miller oilfield, about 270 kilometres off the coast, back to the mainland when it crashed.
"We've activated all our emergency response systems and are working closely with the coastguard," the spokesman said.
"We've got no information yet as to what happened to the passengers and the crew of the helicopter."
The Super Puma helicopter was operated by offshore aviation firm Bond, which was not immediately available for comment.
Another helicopter operated by the firm also went down in the North Sea with 18 people on board in February, although miraculously no one was injured on that occasion.
An official report found that a warning system which would have told pilots they were close to the water in foggy conditions had failed to sound.
The Coastguard said two Royal Air Force helicopters and a Nimrod marine patrol aircraft had been scrambled to the scene on Wednesday, while Aberdeen Coastguard was broadcasting a mayday signal into the area.
"A variety of vessels have immediately responded (to the mayday signal) and the nearest vessel the 'Normand Aurora' have launched their fast rescue craft to the scene," it said.
Dozens of flights serve the oil platforms off the northeast Scottish coast every week.
The Super Puma has been involved in a number of incidents over the past 20 years.
Eleven men were killed in February 1992 when a Super Puma taking oil workers from Shell's Cormorant Alpha platform to a barge just 200 metres (yards) away crashed into the sea immediately after takeoff, 100 miles northeast of Shetland.
In January 1995, 18 men were rescued from the North Sea after a Super Puma hit the water northeast of Aberdeen.
Date created : 2009-04-01