19/02/2009

Rescue Operation After Helicopter Crashes Into Sea

Fifteen oil workers rescued from a helicopter that crashed in the North Sea have arrived back in Aberdeen harbour.

An investigation is underway after the Super Puma's two-man crew and 16 oil workers were rescued from life rafts and three were flown to hospital - they have since been discharged.

The helicopter had plunged into the sea around 125 miles east of Aberdeen en route to a BP production platform. It landed upright and floated due to the emergency flotation bags which inflate during a waterborne ditch.

Those on board escaped on to rubber dinghies and waited for help to arrive.

The coastguard said there were no serious injuries, however some of those involved had suffered minor injuries, were described as the "walking wounded".

A major search operation involving an RAF Nimrod, RAF Sea King, civilian aircraft and boats was launched after the helicopter went down at around 6.40pm on Wednesday.

Flight Sergeant James Lyne, Assistant Controller at the Air Rescue Co-ordination Centre at RAF Kinloss, said: "It was all very quick. Within a few minutes of the aircraft ditching we had rescue aircraft on route.

"Luckily the crew and passengers were able to get out safely. They were pretty well equipped.

"The big danger is if it is high seas then the aircraft will land and turn upside down."

He concluded: "They all managed to get out safely. It is a very good result."

Air accident investigators are launching an inquiry into the case.

(JM/BMcC)

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