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18 safe after copter plunges into sea

Associated Press / February 19, 2009
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LONDON - A transport helicopter crashed into the North Sea last evening, but all 18 aboard were rescued from the chilly waters, British officials said.

Mark Clark, a spokesman for the British Maritime and Coastguard Agency, said the crash was "on the level of the Hudson River in the States," a reference to the successful splash-landing of a passenger jet in the Hudson River in New York last month.

"They're clearly traumatized and they're cold, but they're walking wounded," Clark told Sky News television.

The Super Puma helicopter was taking workers to a BP-operated oil field 120 miles east of the Scottish city of Aberdeen when it crashed at about 6:30 p.m., BP spokesman David Nicholas said.

The aircraft landed upright a few hundred yards from the platform and was kept afloat by inflatable bags. The two crew members and 16 passengers occupied three rubber dinghies until a locator beacon alerted rescuers to their position.

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