Canadian chopper crashes into Atlantic, 16 missing (Lead)

March 13th, 2009 - 9:13 am ICT by IANS  

Toronto, March 13 (IANS) A Canadian helicopter with 18 people on board plunged into icy Atlantic waters Thursday morning off its Newfoundland coast.
One person was confirmed dead and another one was rescued. The remaining 16 were missing. Four coast guard ships, military helicopters and a plane were searching for survivors of the crash.

The debris was said to be spread over six kilometres in the ocean. The helicopter, Sikorsky S-92, was ferrying the workers to offshore rigs when it developed mechanical problems a little after 9 a.m. Thursday. The pilot sent a distress signal and turned the helicopter towards St John’s, the most eastern port and airport in Canada.

However, it soon crashed and sank into the frigid waters of the Atlantic Ocean, 90 km off St John’s.

The rescuers found two life rafts but they were no survivors. Since all passengers are required to wear a special survival suit which can keep them warm for up to 30 hours in cold waters, rescue teams were scouring the vast area for survivors.

The water temperature in the crash zone was said to be around zero degree Celsius at the time of the crash.

“We will continue to search until there is no chance that any survivors may be located,”said Major Dennis McGuire of the joint rescue co-ordination centre in Halifax city.

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