Rescue underway as helicopter ditches in sea

A helicopter with 16 people on board ditched in the sea off north-east Scotland today.

The aircraft was returning from an oil platform just before 2pm when it went down 35 miles off the Aberdeenshire coast.

A major rescue operation was launched, co-ordinated by Aberdeen Coastguard.

Two RAF helicopters and a Nimrod were also involved in the search for survivors.

Helicopter operator Bond confirmed it was one of its aircraft which was involved in the incident.

The craft was carrying 16 people, including two crew, and was returning from the Miller field in the North Sea, airports operator BAA said.

The incident comes around six weeks after a Bond Super Puma with 18 people on board ditched in the North Sea as it approached a production platform owned by BP. Everyone survived the accident.

A Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokesman said the helicopter went down 35 miles off the coast of Crimond, which is between Fraserburgh and Peterhead.

He added: “Two helicopters from the RAF have been scrambled to the scene and a Nimrod marine patrol aircraft has been diverted to the area.

“Aberdeen Coastguard have begun broadcasting a mayday signal into the area.

“RNLI lifeboats from Peterhead and Fraserburgh are heading for the scene now.

“It is understood that there are 16 people on board the aircraft.”

He added: “A supply vessel called Normand Aurora, which was quite close by, has put their fast response boat into the water and is looking for survivors.”

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