Several fatalities after second Bond helicopter ditches in North Sea

By David Kaminski-Morrow

Several occupants of a Eurocopter AS332L offshore oil platform transport helicopter have died after it crashed into the North Sea.

Search and rescue teams have launched an operation off the coast of Scotland. Aberdeen Coast Guard has identified the operator as Bond. It says there were 14 passengers and two pilots on board, all with survival suits.

Rescue vessels are in the process of recovering “a number of fatalities” following the crash, says the Coast Guard. “Two liferafts were spotted in the water, which were both overturned,” it adds. “The search is continuing for the remaining passengers and crew.”

The Coast Guard has not indicated whether anyone survived the crash.

It says it received notification just before 14:00 that a helicopter had ditched 13.5mi (22km) off the coast of Crimond, between Fraserburgh and Peterhead.

Two Royal Air Force rescue helicopters have been scrambled while a British Aerospace Nimrod maritime patrol jet has been diverted to assist. Lifeboats have also been dispatched.

The Coast Guard says 11 vessels in the area are assisting with the sea search.

Weather conditions are dry and settled with light breezes, it adds, with moderate to good visibility and a water temperature of 8°C. Circumstances of the accident are unclear.

Today’s incident comes just six weeks after a Eurocopter EC225 Super Puma, also operated by Bond, ditched near an oil platform on 18 February. All 18 occupants were rescued.