All 18 Passengers Rescued From Helicopter Crash in North Sea

A helicopter carrying 18 people to an offshore oil platform crashed into the North Sea Wednesday, officials said. All aboard were rescued.

Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokesman Mark Clark said the Super Puma helicopter went down as it approached a BP-operated oil field 120 miles ast of the Scottish city of Aberdeen. Coast guard spokesman Fred Caygill said the passengers and crew managed to make it out of the helicopter and onto two inflatable life rafts.

"We're very pleased that all 18 have been rescued," Mr. Caygill said, adding there were no serious injuries. Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said the rescue "averted what could have been a terrible tragedy."

The crash occurred about 6:30 p.m. local time near ETAP Field, BP PLC spokesman David Nicholas said. The coast guard said the helicopter was owned by Bond Offshore Helicopters Ltd., which provides air transport for energy installations.

Helicopters are frequently used to ferry workers to and from oil and gas rigs in the North Sea. Jake Molloy, an official with the Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers Union, said there were about 50 flights a day between Aberdeen and the various installations in the area.

He said the helicopters tended to have a "pretty good record," noting that the last fatal crash occurred more than two years ago.

A message left with Bond Offshore Helicopters was not immediately returned.