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Chopper goes down en route to Canadian rig

A HELICOPTER heading to an offshore oil platform carrying 18 people ditched in the Atlantic Ocean off Newfoundland, Canada, yesterday.

"There's no sign of the helicopter," said Jeri Grychowski of the Rescue Coordination Center in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

However, she said two people were spotted in the water, as well as a life-raft.

The S-92 Sikorsky helicopter, operated by Cougar Helicopters, went down 88.5 kilometers southeast of the provincial capital of St. John's. Police were blocking the road to the Cougar office.

Another helicopter landed yesterday morning in St. John's, and one person rescued was taken away on a stretcher by ambulance.

The first call for help was placed to air traffic control yesterday morning.

"Mechanical problems were reported, but we don't know the nature," Transportation Safety Board of Canada spokeswoman Julie Leroux said.

The helicopter was headed for the Hibernia offshore oil field, about 320 kilometers east of St. John's.

Grychowski said a Hercules aircraft and four Cormorant rescue helicopters were on their way to the site, and a coast-guard ship and a supply ship were also closing on the site.

Grychowski said that winds in the area were fairly strong, kicking up 2 to 3-meter waves.


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