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Eleven killed, two missing in North Sea after Norwegian helicopter crash

29 April 2016

Eleven bodies have been recovered after a helicopter carrying oil workers from a platform in the North Sea came down close to the island of Turøy near Bergen. Thirteen people were on board the aircraft, which was ferrying workers to the mainland from Statoil’s Gullfaks B oil platform in the North Sea.

A Eurocopter Super Puma, the same type that crashed near Bergen
A Eurocopter Super Puma, the same type that crashed near Bergen

Norway’s Joint Rescue Coordination Centre said it was still searching for two of those on board but a spokesman for the western police district told Aftenposten the assumption was that all 13 people had died. The helicopter, owned and operated by CHC, was carrying 11 Statoil employees and two crew members. Of those on board, eleven were Norwegian, one a Briton and one an Italian.

Norway's civil aviation authority has imposed a flight ban on the type of helicopter that crashed - the Eurocopter EC 225L Super Puma.

Witnesses described seeing the aircraft spiral downwards, followed by a powerful explosion. Live television footage showed leisure boats heading towards the crash scene, from where thick black smoke was billowing into the sky. The rotor blades - which became detached during the flight - were recovered from Turøy.

A resident told the local paper Bergensavisen: “There was an explosion and a very peculiar engine sound, so I looked out the window. I saw the helicopter falling quickly into the sea. Then I saw a big explosion.”

The area just west of Bergen, Norway’s second largest city, sees frequent helicopter traffic to and from offshore oil installations.

In August 2013, all UK Super Pumas were grounded by CHC, the company that operated them, after one of the aircraft plunged into the North Sea off the Shetland, killing four. The previous year, 225 model Super Pumas were grounded after two crashes where all passengers and crew were rescued, one off Aberdeen and another off Shetland. After all these incidents, the type was given the go-ahead to resume flying after investigations by the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

A team from the UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch will travel to Norway to assist the investigation because of its experience of carrying out inquiries into offshore helicopter crashes. There were five accidents involving Super Puma helicopters in the UK offshore industry, causing 20 deaths, in the four years to August 2013.

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