Page last updated at 15:58 GMT, Friday, 3 April 2009 16:58 UK

Helicopter crash probe continues

victims of helicopter crash
Pictures of the victims have been released

Investigations into why a helicopter crashed into the North Sea, killing 16 people, are continuing.

The fuselage, thought to contain the bodies of eight missing men, is still understood to be lying on the seabed. Eight bodies have been recovered.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) will continue efforts to salvage the wreckage as well recover the black box flight data recorder.

The Super Puma crashed off the coast of Aberdeenshire on Wednesday afternoon.

An AAIB spokesperson said: "The survey vessel Vigilant left Peterhead Harbour late on Thursday and continues searching for wreckage in the North Sea.

"The AAIB can also confirm it is chartering a salvage vessel which will commence operations in due course. The AAIB will then be joined on board by a team of salvage experts.

"This is a complicated investigation which is drawing on expertise from different sectors and several agencies will continue working together."

Nairn Ferrier
He was a real family man and lived life to its full
Katherine Ferrier
Victim's wife

The AAIB has invited representatives from the French accident investigation authority, the helicopter manufacturer Eurocopter, the European Aviation Safety Agency and the UK Civil Aviation Authority to participate in the investigation.

The initial search was carried out on Wednesday by two RAF helicopters, a Nimrod, two RNLI lifeboats from Peterhead and Fraserburgh and 14 other vessels.

Aberdeen Coastguard continued to co-ordinate the search on Thursday with the lifeboats and seven other vessels, including ferries and fishing boats.

Tributes have continued to be paid to the victims of the helicopter crash, which happened at about 1400 BST on Wednesday as the aircraft was returning from the BP Miller platform.

Their families are spread across Europe - from Dumfries to Liverpool, Worcestershire and Latvia - with half the victims from the north east of Scotland.

Alex Dallas
Alex Dallas was among the 16 men who died

The victims named by police were Captain Paul Burnham, 31, of Methlick, Aberdeenshire, and co-pilot Richard Menzies, 24, of Droitwich Spa, who worked for Bond Offshore Helicopters.

The KCA Deutag employees killed were Brian Barkley, 30, of Aberdeen; Vernon Elrick, 41, of Aberdeen; Leslie Taylor, 41, of Kintore, Aberdeenshire; Nairn Ferrier, 40, of Dundee; Gareth Hughes, 53, of Angus; David Rae, 63, of Dumfries; Raymond Doyle, 57, of Cumbernauld; James John Edwards, 33, of Liverpool; Mihails Zuravskis, 39, from Latvia; and Nolan Carl Goble, 34, of Norwich.

The other named victims were James Costello, 24, of Aberdeen, who was contracted to Production Services Network (PSN); Alex Dallas, 62, of Aberdeen, who worked for Sparrows Offshore Services; Warren Mitchell, 38, of Oldmeldrum, Aberdeenshire, who worked for Weatherford UK; and Stuart Wood, 27, of Aberdeen, who worked for Expro North Sea Ltd.

Emotional support

KCA Deutag will open a Humanitarian Assistance Centre in Aberdeen on Monday, in light of the "huge, continuing emotional impact" of the helicopter tragedy.

KCA Deutag chief executive officer Holger said: "A disaster such as this is always a shock but in this case the shock and sadness is so much closer to home.

"I extend my deepest condolences to the families and friends of all those who lost their lives. Our thoughts continue to be with them through this difficult time."

First Minister Alex Salmond signed a book of condolence in the Kirk of St Nicholas in Aberdeen.

Dundee City Council opened a book in memory of Nairn Ferrier.

The family of Mr Ferrier described him as a "doting dad and a devoted husband".

The 40-year-old's wife, Katherine, said: ''Nairn was just so popular, outgoing and laid back.

"He was a real family man and lived life to its full.

"When he was home from the rigs he would spend all of his time with our two boys Rory, six, and Nairn junior, three."

Bond Offshore Helicopters said they had resumed some flights. The company had suspended flights to allow its staff to come to terms with the tragedy.



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