19 rescued after copter ditches in
North Sea

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nineteen people were rescued yesterday after a helicopter ditched in the North Sea.

Coastguard officials said all those on board were “safe and well”

The CHC helicopter was carrying an oil crew from Aberdeen to a rig 86 miles north-west of Shetland when it ditched at around 3.30pm.

Three RNLI lifeboats were launched from Kirkwall in Orkney and Aith and Lerwick in Shetland to go to the aid of the 17 passengers and two crew.

When they arrived, all 19 had already been taken from their liferaft by a fast rescue craft launched from the the Nord Nightingale vessel which was close to the scene, about 32 miles south-west of Shetland.

They were taken back to the tanker and flown by rescue helicopters to Kirkwall in Orkney. No one was injured.

The EC225 Super Puma helicopter remained in the water last night as plans were made to recover it.

CHC said flights using the EC225 Super Puma model were being temporarily suspended as a team from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch travelled to the north east of Scotland to determine the cause of the incident.

Nick Mair, regional vice president of western North Sea at CHC, said: “CHC’s primary objective is always the safety of our passengers and people, and our pilots’ actions today are consistent with that.

“We are temporarily holding flights using the same type of EC225 aircraft pending receipt or confirmation of certain information from the crew involved in today’s incident and technical follow-up.”

In May all 14 passengers and crew members on a Super Puma helicopter were rescued after it ditched about 30 miles off the coast of Aberdeen. Earlier 16 people died when a Super Puma plunged into the sea. Its gearbox failed while carrying the men to Aberdeen. The Bond-operated helicopter was returning from the BP Miller platform when it went down off the Aberdeenshire coast on April 1, 2009.