Search operation called off after 11 bodies found following Helicopter crash in Norway

Search operation called off after 11 bodies found following Helicopter crash in Norway

Update 5.04pm:

The search operation launched after a helicopter crashed off the coast of western Norway has been called off and all 13 people on board are presumed dead, rescue officials said.

Boerge Galta, of the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre, said "we do not believe anyone can be found alive".

The operation was called off at 5pm local time on Friday after 11 bodies were found.

The cause of the crash was not immediately known.

The Norwegian Civil Aviation Authority said it is immediately banning helicopters of the same type as the one that crashed - Airbus Helicopters EC225LP - from flying in the Scandinavian country or near Norwegian offshore facilities.

The government agency said its decision is "due to the fatal accident", and the ban "would remain in force until revoked"

Update 2.30pm:

Eleven bodies have been found after a helicopter crashed on an island off the coast of western Norway, according to a rescue official.

Jon Sjursoe, a spokesman for Norway's Joint Rescue Coordination Centre, said 11 Norwegian nationals, one Briton and one Italian were on board the Eurocopter EC-225 helicopter that crashed Friday, but he did not know which were among the confirmed victims.

Two people are still missing.

Norwegian broadcaster NRK said 11 of the 13 people on board were employed by Norwegian oil and gas company Statoil ASA. The company did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

The helicopter was on its way from the Gullfaks B oil field in the North Sea to Bergen, 120 kilometres (74 miles) away on the Norwegian mainland.

Earlier:

A helicopter carrying at least 14 people has crashed near the Norwegian city of Bergen.

Police spokesman Morten Kronen said the helicopter "has crashed, it is totally smashed".

He added that there were "reports of an explosion and thick smoke" and that there were people in the sea.

Mr Kronen said the crash took place on the island of Turoey, near Bergen, and did not explain why people had ended up in the water.

He could not say what kind of helicopter was involved.

Norwegian media posted photos of huge billows of smoke.

Eyewitness Rebecca Andersen told Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang that the helicopter's "rotor blades came rushing toward us".

"Then we heard a violent explosion," Ms Andersen was quoted as saying.

The Stavanger Aftenblad daily said the helicopter was on its way to an offshore oil field in the North Sea, some 120 kilometres (74 miles) north-west of Bergen.

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