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All 19 on ditched helicopter 'safe'
All 19 people on board a helicopter that ditched in the North Sea are safe and well, the coastguard has said.
The CHC helicopter was carrying an oil-change crew from Aberdeen to a rig 86 miles north-west of Shetland when it ditched at around 3.30pm.
Three RNLI lifeboats were launched from Kirkwall in Orkney and Aith and Lerwick in Shetland, and a rescue craft was also sent from the Nord Nightingale vessel which was close to the scene, about 32 miles south-west of Shetland.
Rescue helicopters from the coastguard, RAF Lossiemouth and Bond were also launched and all 19 people were found safe. No one was injured in the ditching and those on board are being taken by helicopter to Kirkwall in Orkney, the coastguard said.
A spokesman for the coastguard said the weather in the area was good: "It has been quite calm today and that has been favourable in terms of getting the rescue crews to the scene quickly."
CHC Helicopter confirmed that the helicopter is a Super Puma. A spokesman said: "CHC Helicopter can confirm that all 17 passengers and two crew have been picked up by the standby vessel Nord Nightingale following the controlled ditching of one of its EC225 Super Puma aircraft in the North Sea, off Shetland this afternoon.
"All 19 people on board are safe and well. CHC's primary objective is always the safety of our passengers and crew, and our pilots' actions today are consistent with that. The flight, which was en route from Aberdeen to the West Phoenix asset was being operated on behalf of Total when the incident happened at approximately 3.30pm. The appropriate authorities have been informed and a full investigation will be undertaken to determine the cause of the incident."
In May all 14 passengers and crew members on a Super Puma helicopter were rescued after it ditched about 30 miles off the coast of Aberdeen. It was on a scheduled flight from Aberdeen Airport to a platform in the North Sea at the time.
Earlier 16 people died when a Super Puma plunged into the sea. Its gearbox failed while carrying the men to Aberdeen. The Bond-operated helicopter was returning from the BP Miller platform when it went down off the Aberdeenshire coast on April 1 2009.
This happened about six weeks after another Bond Super Puma with 18 people on board ditched in the North Sea as it approached a production platform owned by BP. Everyone survived that accident.