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Last Updated: Sunday, 10 February 2008, 14:11 GMT
Oil platform evacuated in alert
Safe Scandinavia. Pic by Petroleum Safety Authority Norway
Hundreds of workers are being taken off the platform
Hundreds of oil workers are being airlifted from an oil platform in the North Sea following a security alert.

A total of 539 people are being taken off the Safe Scandinavia accommodation platform in an operation involving 13 helicopters and a fixed wing aircraft.

It is understood a bomb disposal team has been sent to the platform, although it has not been confirmed that a device has been found.

The operation, 130 miles off the Aberdeen coast, began at 0920 GMT.

A spokesman for Aberdeen Coastguard said it was a "large scale" alert and that two platforms were involved, but that just one was being evacuated.

The workers are being transported to rigs in the area.

'Unusual incident'

Britannia Operator Limited, which owns the platform, confirmed that reports were being investigated of an incident involving the Flotel Safe Scandinavia.

It said the relevant emergency authorities had been alerted and a company response team was assisting in the co-ordination of support services.

The company added that it was doing everything possible to resolve the situation.

Map of the area

The Ministry of Defence said five RAF helicopters were involved in the operation, along with coastguard aircraft.

Squadron leader Barry Neilson, from RAF Kinloss, said of the incident: "It's unusual, that's probably the best way to describe it.

"But it falls within our normal operating procedures and we are reacting accordingly."

Mr Neilson said that there was a report of a woman on the platform who had sparked the incident, but he could not go into details at this stage.

The Press Association reported that a "device" had been found on board.

However, Mr Neilson said "we are not sure about a device".

Scotland's Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill was being kept informed about the operation.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "A Scottish Government civil contingencies official is based in the Grampian Police control room, and the justice secretary is being regularly kept appraised of developments.

"There are well established procedures for dealing with incidents in the North Sea, and these are operating efficiently and effectively."

VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Barry Neilson from RAF Kinloss describes the situation



SEE ALSO
An insider's view of the Britannia rig
10 Feb 08 |  North East/N Isles

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