Search still on for fourth body in helicopter crash that killed two North-East men (From The Northern Echo)
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Search still on for fourth body in helicopter crash that killed two North-East men
DEMANDS were last night (Sunday, August 24) growing for the permanent withdrawal of the Super Puma fleet of helicopters following the latest North Sea accident which claimed the lives of two North-East offshore workers.
Duncan Munro from Bishop Auckland was one of four people who died when the helicopter he and 17 others were travelling in crashed into the North Sea two miles west of Shetland.
And it emerged last night that another of the victims, George Allison, originates from the North-East and used to live in Washington, Tyne and Wear, before moving to Winchester in Hampshire.
The Super Puma AS332 L2 operated by CHC was carrying 16 passengers and two crew from the Borgsten Dolphin platform to Sumburgh airport on Shetland when it is reported to have ditched without warning after suffering a loss of power at 6.20pm.
Rescuers recovered three bodies in the aftermath of the crash and the fourth was removed from the wreckage yesterday afternoon.
Twelve of the 14 survivors returned to Aberdeen while two were last night receiving hospital treatment in Shetland after a major rescue operation by the coastguard, police, RAF and RNLI.
The incident, the latest in a series of tragedies involving Super Puma helicopters travelling to the oil rigs, has prompted anger with many calling for the models to be scrapped.
CHC have suspended global operations involving four Super Puma models until further notice upon advice from the offshore industry’s Helicopter Safety Steering Group (HSSG).
The company, who were working for oil rig owners Total, said the cause of the crash is being investigated and a spokesman said: “The thoughts and prayers of all CHC people are with victims of the incident and their loved ones.”
Super Puma manufacturers Eurocopter said the company was supporting CHC and relevant authorities with their investigations.
Several online petitions have already been launched calling for an immediate change to the aircraft used for oil rig flilghts.
One, on AVAAZ.org, said Norwegians successfully campaigned for a safer helicopter, the Sikorsy-S92, to be used after similar tragedies involving Super Pumas and said UK workers deserve the same.
The petition, which is to be sent to Mark Hoban, the Minister of State for Employment, said: “The safety record of helicopters delivering workers to oil platforms on the North Sea is appalling and with the latest tragedy and loss of four lives, we demand that the oil industry treats our workers with the same health and safety that the Norwegian oil workers get.”
More than 3,000 people have also signed another online petition calling for the Super Pumas to be destroyed, with many describing them as outdated.
One supporter, Peter Halifax, said: “Destroy them before they destroy us.”
The cause of the crash is being investigated, but Jim Nicholson, RNLI rescue co-ordinator, said: “There appears to have been a catastrophic loss of power which meant the helicopter suddenly dropped into the sea without any opportunity to make a controlled landing.”
Audrey Wood, mother of 27-year-old Stuart Wood, who died in a Super Puma crash in 2009, said: “Something needs to be done to reassure the men that need to go out to the oil rigs that they have a safe mode of transport and can come home safely to their families.”
Searchers hope to recover the fourth body soon and a ship has been sent to remove the wreckage of the helicopter, which was found upside down by rescue teams.
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