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#RNLI - Three bodies have been recovered from the water after a helicopter with 18 people on board crashed in the North Sea last night (Friday 23 August).

RNLI lifeboats from Aith and Lerwick in the Shetland Isles have spent the night involved in a multi-agency rescue operation, following reports that a helicopter had ditched into the sea west of Sumburgh airport.

It's believed the helicopter, a Super Puma L2, was carrying 16 passengers and two crew from the Borgsten Dolphin oil platform in the North Sea.

Both volunteer lifeboat crews made their way to the scene throughout the evening and assisted in the search for passengers with other agencies, including two coastguard rescue helicopters, a passenger ferry and a cargo vessel.

Fourteen people were rescued while the lifeboats were still making their way to the scene.

But early this morning Police Scotland conformed that three bodies had been recovered, two of which were recovered by Lerwick RNLI lifeboat and taken to a nearby pier. Work is now underway to recover the fourth individual.

A spokesperson for the RNLI said: "Sadly the bodies of three people have been recovered in the aftermath of yesterday’s crash, and we know that agencies are working to recover the body of the fourth person.

"We can confirm that the RNLI lifeboat crew from Lerwick lifeboat station recovered two of those people. The lifeboat crew transported them to Sumburgh and we are liaising with other authorities as things develop.

"Obviously this is the news that everyone, included our lifeboat volunteers, dreaded – our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of those four people. We can also confirm that one of our lifeboats has also been involved in reclaiming wreckage from the scene as part of the operation."

The wreckage of the helicopter is in a fairly inaccessible position near cliffs, and weather conditions at the time were described as not particularly good.

Lerwick RNLI lifeboat managed to tow the wreckage off rocks and it was being held in the shelter of a bay until a recovery operation could commence.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

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