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16 lost in chopper crash

A HELICOPTER carrying 16 people from an offshore oil rig crashed into the North Sea off the northeast coast of Scotland yesterday and a rescue operation is under way, the British Maritime and Coastguard Agency said.

Oil company BP said the aircraft was carrying 14 passengers and two crew from its Miller platform some 270 kilometers offshore. It ditched into the sea around 56km off the coast of Crimond, between Fraserburgh and Peterhead in Scotland.

The aircraft is operated by Bond Offshore Helicopters, which runs a fleet of Super Puma helicopters, the coastguard said.

Two Royal Aircraft helicopters and a Nimrod marine patrol aircraft are taking part in the rescue. Coastal lifeboats were also launched and a nearby ship, the "Normand Aurora," sent its fast rescue craft to the scene.

The crash comes less than two months after a Bond Super Puma helicopter crashed into the North Sea just 500 meters from a BP platform in an area known as the Eastern Trough Area Project.

On that occasion all 18 passengers were rescued, 15 by the platform's own lifeboat and three by air rescue.


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