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Published: Saturday, 8/24/2013

Four killed in oil industry helicopter crash off Scotland

REUTERS

LONDON -- Four people were killed when a helicopter carrying oil workers crashed into the sea off Scotland's Shetland islands, raising fresh questions about safety in the remote North Sea energy sector.

Fourteen people were rescued after the Super Puma L2 helicopter, made by EADS unit Eurocopter, came down - the fourth incident in the area involving different models of the widely-used aircraft in just over four years.

A mother of one of the survivors told Sky News: “He said it seemed to lose power and there was no time to brace. They just dropped into the sea. He was by a window so he was able to escape that way as it rolled over.”

Scottish police said three bodies had been recovered and work was underway to recover the body of the fourth person. Sky News said the fourth body was in the wreckage.

The helicopter hit the sea as it approached Sumburgh airport, on the coast of Shetland, a cluster of islands more than 100 miles off the northeastern tip of mainland Scotland, at about 1720 GMT on Friday.

The aircraft, which was carrying 16 passengers and two crew, was operated by CHC Helicopter for French oil major Total, a CHC spokesman said.

TV images showed some of the survivors in bright yellow survival suits, at least one on a stretcher and others walking after the rescue.

CHC said it would carry out an investigation with the UK's Air Accident Investigation Branch. It temporarily suspended its Super Puma L2 flights worldwide and all flights by its UK operations today.

All 14 passengers and two crew died in April 2009 when a Bond operated Super Puma crashed off Peterhead on the east coast of Scotland on its way back from BP's Millier oil platform.

Last year the crew of a Super Puma helicopter ditched the aircraft in the North Sea after a gearbox failure and all 19 on board another Super Puma helicopter were rescued after it ditched during a flight from Aberdeen to the West Phoenix rig, west of Shetland.



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