Calls over safety after four die in Shetland helicopter crash

RNLI volunteer training the Aith lifeboat spotlight onto the ditched helicopter Photo: RNLI/PA Wire

There were calls tonight for the suspension of all Super Puma helicopter flights to and from offshore platforms after four people died when a craft transporting oil workers onshore went down in the North Sea.

An oil and gas industry safety group has recommended the temporary grounding of the model after a helicopter carrying 16 workers and two crew plunged into the water off Shetland last night.

(Clockwise from top-left) Duncan Munro, Sarah Darnley, George Allison and Gary McCrossan. Credit: ITV News

Tributes have been paid to the four victims as rescuers worked to recover one of the bodies still at sea.

Duncan Munro, 46, from Bishop Auckland, County Durham; George Allison, 57, from Winchester, Hampshire; Sarah Darnley, 45, from Elgin, Scotland; and 59-year-old Gary McCrossan, from Inverness, also Scotland, died when the AS332 L2 aircraft went down around two miles west of Sumburgh airport at 6.20pm.

ITV News' Scotland Correspondent Debi Edwards reports:

The helicopter operated by CHC for oil company Total was transporting workers from the Borgsten Dolphin platform when it is believed to have experienced a "catastrophic" loss of power.

The offshore industry's Helicopter Safety Steering Group (HSSG) said there were presently "no confirmed facts" pointing to the cause of the crash.

Helen Callaghan reports that unions are also worried about the safety record of the Super Puma.

The group will meet again on Wednesday to review the situation unless "any significant information come to light before this date".

Fourteen people were taken to safety during a major rescue response involving the coastguard, police, RAF and RNLI. They were taken to hospital on Shetland, where two remained tonight. The other 12 survivors have returned safely to Aberdeen.

One Total employee was on board and the remainder worked for contract companies, including those killed.