16 feared dead after helicopter ditches off Scotland

Super Puma helicopters are used to transport workers to oil and gas platforms in the North Sea.
Eight people missing from a fatal helicopter crash in the North Sea off Scotland are feared dead, police said Thursday.

The helicopter was carrying 16 people when it went down about 13 miles off Scotland’s northeastern coast, officials said. Rescuers recovered eight bodies from the crash Wednesday. “We are coming to terms with the fact that all might have been killed in the crash,” a spokeswoman for Grampian Police told CNN. She said there is no evidence that anyone survived. Rescuers resumed searching Thursday morning for the eight missing people over a search area of 30 nautical miles. Two lifeboats and seven other vessels, including ferries and fishing boats, were conducting the search Thursday, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said. There was good visibility and only a light breeze in the search area Thursday, a Coastguard spokeswoman said. Thursday’s efforts were also beginning to recover the wreckage from the seabed to try to establish whether the remaining eight people were trapped in it, the Aberdeen Press and Journal reported.

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The cause of the crash was not clear, authorities said, noting that they had not yet recovered the wreckage of the craft. They did not say whether it sent a distress signal before going down. The recovery would provide vital information on what caused the crash, as Super Puma helicopters are equipped with black box flight recorders which will document everything that happened in the minutes before the crash. The Bond AS332L Mark II helicopter was returning from the Miller Platform, a drilling operation in the North Sea, said Brian Taylor, who represents the drilling contractor. Fourteen passengers and two crew members were on board, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said. They included 10 members of the drill crew. The bodies found Wednesday were in the water, not in the helicopter, said Suzanne Todd of the agency. All were wearing survival suits. It is the second crash of a helicopter in the North Sea in less than two months. A Super Puma helicopter ditched about 120 miles east of Aberdeen while approaching an offshore platform on February 18, the RAF said. All 18 aboard were rescued without major injuries.