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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 August 2005, 14:31 GMT 15:31 UK
Estonia helicopter 14 feared dead
Rescue workers at scene of crash
Rescue workers have located the wreckage on the seabed
Fears are growing for the 14 passengers and crew of a helicopter which crashed into the Baltic Sea near Naissaar island off the Estonian coast.

Debris was discovered at the crash site and the sunken wreckage has been found. Estonia's prime minister said it was likely that all on board had died.

Copterline's Sikorsky 76 helicopter had been flying from Tallinn to the Finnish capital, Helsinki.

The area has been stormy. Rescue services are still working in the area.

The crash was about 5km (three miles) from shore, near the Estonian capital.
SIKORSKY S-76
Twin-engine, cargo and passenger helicopter
Maximum speed: 178mph
Passengers: 12
Range: 450 miles

The passengers are reported to be six Finns, four Estonians and two US citizens. The two crew are Finnish.

The helicopter's tail section was sticking out of the water when rescuers arrived, but the rest of the aircraft was submerged.

Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip told a news conference: "We don't have the slightest bit of information that could lead us to believe that any person on board the helicopter could still be alive.

"Unfortunately, we have to be prepared for the high likelihood that all the people on board the helicopter are dead."

Divers were searching in water about 50-60m (165-200ft) deep.

Minister's visit

Copterline has run commercial helicopter flights across the Gulf of Finland since 2000 with a clean safety record. The crossing takes about 18 minutes.

Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet had been on a Copterline flight from Tallinn to Helsinki earlier on Wednesday.

He was in Helsinki to meet Finnish officials and visit the world athletics championships.

Storms in the region have forced the cancellation of ferry crossings between Tallinn and Helsinki.

The Russian news agency Itar-Tass said several thousand people were left without electricity after the bad weather.

Earlier on Wednesday, nine people were rescued from a Polish yacht caught in bad weather in the Baltic Sea, off the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.



SEE ALSO:
Country profile: Estonia
02 Aug 05 |  Country profiles


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