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Wednesday, 17 July, 2002, 12:26 GMT 13:26 UK
Sorrow for oil tragedy victims
Support vessel
Five bodies have been returned to the mainland
Scotland's oil industry has been expressing sympathy for those who died in the North Sea helicopter crash off the Norfolk coast.

Five people have already been confirmed dead and another six remain unaccounted for after the Sikorsky S76 crashed en-route to a gas drilling rig on Tuesday evening.

Police named one of the missing passengers on board the helicopter as Angus MacArthur, 38, from Maryburgh, in Ross-shire.

Northern Constabulary said a liaison officer was with his wife Ann, 42, and two sons aged nine and four.


Clearly, we have been able to establish an incredibly good safety record in this mode of transportation in the oil and gas industry

Tom Botts, Shell Expro
Mr MacArthur is believed to have originally come from the Isle of Lewis.

Tom Botts, managing director of Shell Expro, said it was "a tragic day" for the company and the oil and gas industry as a whole.

Speaking on BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme he said: "This was a routine flight. The tragedy happened as the helicopter was ferrying staff from the clipper platform to the Santa Fe drilling rig."

Mr Botts said Shell could not divulge any further details regarding those on board the helicopter until next of kin had been informed.

"It is quite unusual because you can imagine the amount of engineering and training that goes in with not just the pilots but the entire staff, he said.

"Clearly, we have been able to establish an incredibly good safety record in this mode of transportation in the oil and gas industry.

"So when this kind of thing happens it is a shock to us all."

Helicopter in search
The search for the missing is being scaled down
Jake Molloy, general secretary of the Aberdeen-based offshore union, OILC, said its members were thinking of those who died in the crash.

There were physical signs of the sorrow felt in the industry with flags placed at half mast at oil installations and offfices.

There are currently six Sikorsky S76 helicopters in operation across the UK, two of which are based in Scotland.

The helicopter was owned by the firm Bristow and was chartered by Shell Expro.

Bristow has suspended its S76, while the firm Scotia said its helicopter remained in operation.

Northern operations

Mr Molloy said that this type of helicopter was not widely used in Scotland but the union would nevertheless wait to see if any lessons could be learned.

"Obviously they (workers) will feel for the families of those who have been lost, but really this type of helicopter is not used in northern operations," he said.

"It is used mainly in southern operations because of the capacity which it has. It is a very low capacity aircraft.

"So, there shouldn't be any great concerns up here, but we will be waiting to hear just exactly what happened and a lot of lessons can be learned."

See also:

17 Jul 02 | England
18 Jun 02 | Business
16 Jul 02 | UK
17 Jul 02 | UK
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