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Page last updated at 15:38 GMT, Friday, 13 March 2009

Sixteen missing in Canada crash

A S-92 Sikorsky helicopter takes off at St John's International Airport in Nova Scotia, Canada, on March 12, 2009
The S-92 Sikorsky helicopter had sent out a distress call

Rescuers are continuing their search for 16 people missing since their helicopter plunged into the sea off eastern Canada on Thursday morning.

The S-92 Sikorsky with 18 people aboard crashed some 55km (35 miles) south-east of St John's at just after 0900 (1130 GMT) on its way to an oil platform.

One survivor was found and one person has been confirmed dead.

The aircraft was equipped with survival suits that would enable passengers to survive for 24 hours in icy waters.

However, rescuers have so far been unable to pick up signals from locator beacons attached to each suit.

"The search continued overnight, but unfortunately we have nothing new," Paul Doucette, spokesman for the search co-ordination centre, was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.

Officials say strong winds and high waves are hampering rescue efforts.

Flights suspended

A "debris field" had been identified on the surface of the sea, Maj Denis McGuire, from a rescue co-ordination centre in Halifax, was quoted as saying.

Two empty life rafts have been found.

The helicopter sent out a distress call at 0918 (1148 GMT) on Thursday in mild weather, said Rick Burt of charter company Cougar Helicopters, the aircraft's operator.

"The aircraft was on its way out, experienced technical problems, radioed in that it was turning around and that was the last that we had communication," Mr Burt.

It was ferrying workers from St John's to oil platforms in the Hibernia and White Rose oil and gas fields, some 200 miles (320km) and 217 miles respectively south-east of the coast of the province of Newfoundland.

Cougar has suspended all offshore flights until it knows the cause of the crash.



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13 Mar 09 |  Americas



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