Helicopter crashes off Canada coast, 17 missing

17:36, 12 March 2009
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The helicopter was...

Seventeen people are missing in the frigid waters off Canada`s Atlantic coast after a helicopter crashed while ferrying workers to an offshore oil platform, a search and rescue spokeswoman said on Thursday, according to Reuters.

The helicopter was on its way to the platform when it went down about 47 nautical miles (87 km) southeast of the Newfoundland and Labrador capital of St. John`s, said Jeri Grychowski of the Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

"There were 18 people on board. One has been taken out of the water," she said.

"There is a life raft in the water, but at this particular time we don`t have any indication if there`s anybody in it."

She said the helicopter regularly ferries people between St. John`s and the Hibernia platform.

Images on CBC TV showed a rescue helicopter landing in St. John`s and a person on a stretcher being wheeled to an ambulance.

A Hercules aircraft, two Cormorant rescue helicopters, and two surface ships were actively searching the site, Grychowski said.

She said water temperatures were just above freezing, with waves of up to three metres (nine feet).

The aircraft is owned by Cougar Helicopters of St. John`s, which plans to hold a press conference later on Thursday, the company said.

The Hibernia platform is owned by Petro-Canada (PCA.TO), Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM.N) with 33.125 percent, Chevron Corp. (CVX.N), Murphy Oil Corp. (MUR.N) with 6.5 percent, StatoilHydro (STL.OL), and the government of Canada.

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