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Canadian helicopter with 18 onboard crashes into Atlantic Ocean

Friday, March 13, 2009

Two life boats were empty, one person is dead and sixteen others are missing after a helicopter crashed into the frigid north Atlantic Ocean reported search and rescue official, March 12. The Sikorsky S92 helicopter sunk below the surface and the debris field was located about 47 nautical miles (87 km; 54 mi) southeast of St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Maydays and alerts were sent at 9:18 local NL time (7:48 EST). The helicopter pilot radioed his intent to return to St. John's. File:CHC S-92.jpg

file photo: Sikorsky S-92 of CHC Helicopters
Image: Christian Sager.
(Image missing from commons: image; log)

The lone survivor, Robert Decker, was taken to a local hospital in critical condition. He was rescued by a helicopter which arrived 45 minutes after take off.

Of the eighteen people on board one other body was found and taken to St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador. The cause of the crash is under investigation, but Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper called the incident a "tragic accident". Julie Leroux of the Transportation Safety Board said that mechanical problems were reported on the helicopter, but further investigation was needed.

Earlier reports stated that two people and a life raft were seen in the waters 87 kilometers (54 miles) southeast of St. John's. There were reports of a second life raft as well. Rescuers soon discovered that the life rafts were empty.

For those wearing survival suits, the survival time would be approximately 24 hours. Wave heights at the time of the crash were six to nine feet (two to three meters), with freezing water temperatures. As a result, emergency rooms at St. John's hospital were prepared for survivors suffering from hypothermia reported Deborah Collins of the Eastern Health Board.

On board were workers heading to two offshore oilfields, mainly the Sea Rose platform, a part of the White Rose offshore oilfield 315 kilometers (196 miles) southeast of St. John's. Two people on board were staff of Cougar Helicopters, and two passengers traveling to the Hibernia platform.

Two Cormorant rescue helicopters and one military Hercules plane flew into high winds during the rescue effort. The search and rescue team was supplemented by a coast guard ship and supply ship. There were reports that two other helicopters were dispatched as well.


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