ST. JOHN'S, Newfoundland – Canadian investigators have located what they believe is the wreckage of a helicopter that crashed in the Atlantic, saying Saturday that their main goal is to recover any missing bodies.
The Sikorsky S-92 was carrying 18 oil workers to oil platforms off Newfoundland Thursday morning when it reported mechanical problems and ditched into the sea, about 30 miles from shore, officials said.
The Transportation Safety Board said Saturday that an underwater remote controlled camera has confirmed what they earlier believed was the fuselage of the chopper based on sonar readings taken off the coast of Newfoundland.
One survivor and one body were recovered from the water shortly after the accident by a rescue helicopter.
Lead investigator Mike Cunningham said Saturday that investigators hope to determine whether the 16 missing bodies are inside in the chopper's body by using remote controlled cameras.
Cunningham said the helicopter's fuselage, which is sitting on a flat surface on the ocean floor, 393 feet below the ocean's surface, is laying on its side, but is largely intact.
He told a news conference Saturday that officials have recovered pieces of the helicopter, including doors and the interior bulkhead, as well as personal kit bags scattered among the debris in the area.
Officials hope to begin lifting the wreckage Monday or Tuesday, said Cunningham.
"We want to ideally bring everything up in one piece," he said, adding that once the fuselage is recovered, the team will respectfully remove any bodies from helicopter's body.
Rescuers ended their search Friday night for the 16 remaining oil workers after about 34 hours, saying there was almost no chance of survival in the ocean's near-freezing waters. Officials believe those aboard were wearing survival suits, which serve as life preservers and retain body warmth in frigid waters. However, life expectancy while wearing the suits is 24 hours, which had been exceeded.
Recovery efforts began Saturday, with the TSB launching an investigation into what went wrong.
The aunt of one of the 17 people presumed killed in the crash said the only body recovered so far was that of her niece, Allison Maher.
Ada Kenny said Saturday that the family is distraught over the loss and still reeling from the emotional turmoil of hoping that the people on board might be found alive.
"They are quite comforted, but then they're quite saddened by the ones who haven't found anyone," Kenny said through tears as she spoke of her niece.
"She was always laughing — I can hear her laugh now," Kenny said. "I can always see her smile with her big green eyes and her little red head."
She said her relatives were focused too on the other families and the only survivor, Robert Decker, who was still in a St. John's hospital recovering from a broken bone and hypothermia. He is listed in critical but stable condition.
Officials have not released the names of the 17 people who are believed to have died.
The pilot of the helicopter had reported mechanical problems, but the cause of the crash was still being investigated.
The helicopter was en route to oil platforms about 200 miles east of St. John's.