Helicopter crashes into drilling rig, 20 dead (Second lead)

April 28th, 2008 - 8:49 pm ICT by admin  

Kiev, April 28 (DPA) A Ukrainian helicopter crashed into a Black Sea oil drilling rig Monday, leaving 20 people dead, a government spokesman said. The MiG-8 passenger helicopter had been carrying workers to an oil rig some 70 km in the Sea of Azov near the Crimea peninsula, said Yury Avdeev, an official from the state-owned Chernomornaftogaz energy company.

The victims included 17 rig workers and three flight crew, Avdeev said.

One oil worker aboard the aircraft was rescued from the wreckages of the helicopter in critical condition. He succumbed to his wounds hours later, Interfax news agency reported.

The aircraft’s tail rotor struck a steel fence rail on the rig during a landing attempt, causing the helicopter to flip over, slam into the rig, and burst into flames, said , transport minsitry spokesman Iosif Vinsky

The remains of the helicopter were on fire for some ten minutes before the blaze was extinguished, the news agency reported.

The MiG servicing the government-operated Tavrida rig in the Shurmovo oil and gas field had received all proper pre-flight checks and was fit for flight, Vinsky said.

Weather conditions in the region had been rainy and windy prior to the accident, but flight conditions at the time of the accident had been “satisfactory,” said Maryna Soroka, a government spokeswoman.

An investigation of the accident site with divers checking for underwater stress damage to the rig’s structure was in progress, she added.

The Azov Sea mishap came exactly one month after a Ukrainian Border Troops helicopter, also a MiG-8, smashed into the Black Sea near the Danube delta, en route to an island observation post.

Thirteen people died and one passenger survived the crash, caused by a combination of poor weather and pilot error, investigators said.

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