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11 dead in helicopter crash off Norway

At least 11 people died on Friday when a helicopter transporting 13 people from a North Sea oil platform crashed off the coast of western Norway, rescue services said.

“Eleven people found, none alive. Search continuing for the two others,” the Sola rescue centre tweeted around three hours after the crash.

The chances of finding the two alive were seen as slim. Sola spokesman Anders Bang Andersen told reporters that emergency crews had “not seen any sign of survivors”.

The Super Puma chopper went down around midday in the archipelago off the coast of Bergen, Norway’s second biggest city, carrying 11 Norwegians, one Briton and one Italian.

The helicopter broke into pieces near a small island and parts of the wreck were found scattered on land and at sea. Part of the chopper was resting on the seabed under five to seven metres (16 to 23 feet) of water, around 20 metres from land, rescue officials said.

Bang Andersen told AFP the chopper had been on its way to Bergen’s airport when it crashed with 11 passengers and two crew members on board.

It was returning from the Gullfaks B platform, in one of Norway’s biggest offshore oil fields, which is operated by state-owned Statoil.

– ‘Pieces flew into the air’ –
Several witnesses described seeing the aircraft spiral downwards, followed by a powerful explosion, and people were seen in the sea.

“There was an explosion and a very peculiar engine sound, so I looked out the window. I saw the helicopter falling quickly into the sea. Then I saw a big explosion,” an island resident told local daily Bergensavisen.

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