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Four Dead in Helicopter Crash Off Scottish Coast, Police Say

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Aug. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Four people were killed when a helicopter carrying 18 people for French oil company Total SA crashed into the sea off the Shetland Islands.

Police said the aircraft went down shortly before 6:30 p.m. yesterday, 2 miles from Sumburgh airport, which was closed for use by emergency services. The bodies of three people have been recovered and the search continues to find the body of the fourth, Police Scotland said in a statement today.

Yesterday, 14 people recovered from the sea were taken to the Gilbert Bain Hospital in Lerwick, police said. A Coastguard spokeswoman told the BBC their injuries varied. Nobody “has walked away from this without a scratch,” she said.

The craft was a Super Puma L2 with 16 passengers and two crew members and it was approaching the airport when the crash occurred, CHC Helicopter, which operated the flight, said in a statement on its website.

“A full investigation will be carried out in which we will cooperate fully with all the regulatory bodies and share any learnings with the industry,” CHC said in an e-mailed statement today. “While it is not possible to take all of the risk out of this industry, it is our obligation to mitiagate those risks.”

The Super Puma L2 is made by the Eurocopter unit of European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co.

“Our sympathies are very much with the families of those affected at this difficult time,” Malcolm Graham. Police Scotland’s assistant chief constable said in a statement. “We will now be carrying out an investigation to establish the circumstances in due course.”

Strong Tides

The wreckage of the helicopter was in a “fairly inaccessible” position near cliffs in an area with strong tides, Jim Nicholson, a lifeboat rescue coordinator, told the BBC. Anyone in the sea would be swept away “some distance,” he said, according to a report on the BBC’s website.

Northlink Ferries said it had diverted a ferry and a freight ship to help with the rescue, the Press Association reported. Investigators from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch were heading to the crash scene last night, it said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Makiko Kitamura in London at mkitamura1@bloomberg.net; Rodney Jefferson in Edinburgh at r.jefferson@bloomberg.net; Louisa Fahy in Washington at lnesbitt@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Foxwell at sfoxwell@bloomberg.net