A helicopter ferrying passengers crashed on Friday, seemingly killing all 13 people on board, rescue officials said.
The 11 passengers and two crew on the flight from the Gullfaks B oil platform, managed by Norway’s Statoil, were all Norwegian except for one British and one Italian national, based on the Rescue Coordination Centre for Southern Norway.
Britain and Norway frozen commercial flights of the kind of chopper involved in the crash, an Airbus Helicopters H225 Super Puma, a workhorse of the offshore oil industry.
Airbus afterwards said the grounding had been extended to the entire commercial fleet, 70 percent of which can be used to support the global oil industry in the Gulf of Mexico to Africa and Asia.
Plumes of smoke rose with many islands that were small in the scene in an expanse of sea and debris could be seen on the rocks.
Norwegian media they saw the rotor blades separating from your helicopter while in the air was told by several witnesses.
“While I looked up, the rotor (blades) loosened and disappeared toward the north,” John Atle Sekkingstad told the web site of local newspaper Bergens Tidende.
“After that, the chopper turned north and I saw fire near the top of the helicopter, where the rotor have been attached.
The main body of the aircraft was lying under water, while its rotor was discovered on a rocky outcrop about 200 to 300 metres (220-330 yards) away, state broadcaster NRK said, quoting the rescue centre.
Petroleum worker Chris Andersen told NRK: “I saw the rotor independent … It was terrible. There was a huge explosion that you could physically feel. You felt the vibrations.”
The area, just west of Bergen, Norway’s second-biggest city, has regular chopper traffic to and from offshore petroleum installations. Weather conditions on the day were ordinary.
Norway’s king and the prime minister expressed their condolences to the families of the victims.
“You are not alone in your grief,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg, dressed in black, said in an address to the state.