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Super Puma goes down in the North Sea


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All 16 passengers and crew on board the Super Puma helicopter are feared dead after it plunged into the North Sea 14 miles off the Aberdeenshire coast on Wednesday afternoon.

 

The aircraft was flying back from the BP Miller platform at the time, in calm and sunny conditions.

 

Eight bodies were recovered on Wednesday and arrived at Aberdeen harbour on board the Caledonia Victory support vessel.

 

An extensive search for the remaining eight people resumed at first light, Aberdeen Coastguard said.

 

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond said the outlook for the missing passengers is "extremely bleak".

 

Experts from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) are travelling to the scene of the crash.

 

The helicopter went down around 14 miles from Peterhead just before 2pm on Wednesday.

 

It issued a mayday which was picked up by air traffic controllers and a major rescue operation was launched.

 

Two overturned life-rafts were seen and eight bodies were later recovered from the water by the Caledonia Victory.

 

The Queen has sent a private letter of condolence to the families of the victims.

 

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has also expressed his condolences while Mr Salmond said he was "shocked and saddened" by the incident.

 

Mr Brown took time out from G20 summit preparations in London to say: "This has been a tragic day in the North Sea and my thoughts are with the relatives of those who have lost their lives in this crash."

 

Offshore union RMT called for the grounding of the model of helicopter involved in the crash until it was clear what caused it to come down.

 

 

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