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Helicopter carrying Shell employees crashes in sea, all 13 on board survive

AP Worldstream: Report: Helicopter carrying Shell employees crashes in sea, all 13 on board survive

Jun 19, 2005

A helicopter carrying employees of oil giant Shell crashed in the sea near an offshore rig in the South China Sea, but all 13 occupants including a Briton and two New Zealanders survived without major injuries, a news report said.

The Super Puma EC225 helicopter, with two pilots and 11 Shell Malaysia employees aboard, went down Saturday after nearly completing its one-hour flight from Miri in Sarawak state on Borneo island to the company’s rig, the New Sunday Times reported.

It said the occupants, who were wearing life jackets, evacuated the aircraft before it sank and were rescued by a passing boat. The helicopter was one of three contracted from Malaysia Helicopter Services, a private company, to Shell Malaysia.

The newspaper quoted Dennis Lloyd, the lone Briton on the helicopter, as saying that the two pilots handled the aircraft with confidence as it started plunging into the sea, and everyone was able to get out within minutes after it touched water.

“We were all scrambling to save our lives … we were able to swim because we were wearing life jackets,” he was quoted as saying.

Shell Malaysia officials and police in Sarawak were not immediately available for comment.

The newspaper identified the two New Zealanders on board as Mark Dindsall and Jim McDowell. The other eight passengers were all Malaysians.

One of them, Rowin Nayon, was quoted as saying that the helicopter experienced technical problems about 52 nautical miles away from Miri, on the western coast of Borneo. It was at a height of about 100 meters (330 feet), and only about 200 meters (660 feet) away from the rig when it went down, the Times said.

It was the third helicopter crash in Sarawak state since July last year, the Times said. The previous two crashes resulted in 15 fatalities.

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