Rescue in the North Sea

Eighteen people have been rescued after a Eurocopter Super Puma helicopter ditched into the sea about 125 miles east of Aberdeen on its way to a BP oil production platform.

The helicopter ditched in the sea approximately 500 metres from the platform at about 1915 GMT on Wednesday night. Workers on the platform saw the aircraft hit the water and immediately raised the alarm.

Flotation bags carried in helicopter’s wheel bays deployed automatically. The helicopter’s tail boom was later discovered to have broken away from the fuselage, though investigators say it is too early to know whether this happened before or after it hit the sea.

Passengers and crew scrambled into three life rafts, which were tied together. GPS signals from locator beacons worn by all on board were picked up by satellite

Three survivors were picked up by helicopter, others by fast rescue craft. An RAF Nimrod aircraft co-ordinated the operation to prevent helicopters colliding in poor visibility.