19 plucked from North Sea after oil chopper crashes
All 19 people on board a helicopter that ditched in the North Sea are safe and have returned to land.
The helicopter was carrying an oil crew from Aberdeen to a rig 86 miles north-west of Shetland, off the north coast of Scotland, when it ditched at around 3.30pm today.
Three RNLI lifeboats were launched from Kirkwall in Orkney and Aith and Lerwick in Shetland to go to the aid of the 17 passengers and two crew.
When they arrived, all 19 had already been taken from their life raft by a fast rescue craft launched from the Nord Nightingale vessel, which was close to the scene about 32 miles south-west of Shetland.
They were taken back to the tanker and flown by RAF and Bond rescue helicopters to Kirkwall in Orkney. No one was injured in the incident.
Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said he hopes an investigation into the cause will get to the facts quickly so other such incidents can be avoided.
He said: "It will be a huge relief to all of the friends, family and colleagues of Scotland's offshore workers that each one of the 19 people aboard the helicopter that ditched in the North Sea this afternoon have now been accounted for and are safe and well.
"Once again, the response to this incident by our emergency services was fantastic and their continued bravery and expertise will bring great reassurance to every offshore worker who is required to use helicopters in challenging conditions."
A statement from the helicopter company CHC said its primary objective was "the safety of our passengers and crew".
"The appropriate authorities have been informed and a full investigation will be undertaken," CHC added.