By Dotun Omolaja, Lagos
11 rescued as Bristow copter crash lands at sea
No fewer than 11 persons were this morning rescued after a Bristow helicopter marked N5BQJ made an emergency landing in the high sea.
The copter, which was said to have left Bonny Island in Rivers State made an emergency landing at about 136.70 nautical miles, approximately 254km inward Murtala Mohammed International Airport, (MMIA) Lagos.
It was confirmed that the chopper that carried Â nine passengers and two crew members Â dished into the high sea at aboutÂ 9:20 am.
It was gathered that the co-pilot, a woman, sustained minor dislocation, while others rescued including the pilot had minor injuries.
The helicopter was said to have developed a fault amid-air, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing at Latitude 05.49.39m north and Longitude 004.17.041m east.
All persons on board were said to have floated on water, making it easy for a Merchant Vessel, MV DIJAMA nearby to sight and rescue them.
Emergency teams of SHELL, Mobil, AGIP, Rapid Response Squad (RRS), the Nigerian Navy (NN), Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Nigerian Air ForceÂ (NAF) and Nigerian Airspace Management Authority (NAMA) participated in the swift rescue operation which took about 90 minutes.Â
At the time of filing this report, all 11 persons were said to be on life raft, while efforts were ongoing to recover the debris of the copter.
Confirming the incident, the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) Western Naval Command (WNC) Rear Admiral Ralph Osondu said MV DIJAMA launched two of its boats to rescue all 11 lived.
“MV DIJAMA was the first to get to the scene. It happened 40 nautical miles from Igbokoda, Ondo State. The helicopter had nine passengers and two crew members.Â
“All were rescued alive and handed over to a speedboat, SURFER P2621, which took them ashore to the nearest hospital (in Ondo State),” he said.Â
Similarly, the General Manager, LASEMA, Michael Akindele three RRS search and rescue helicopters were deployed to the scene.
He attributed the success of the rescue to the recent air simulation exercise organised by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in Lagos, commending all the stakeholders for prompt response.
“The helicopter ditched inside the ocean. However, 11 souls on board are alive and there is no casualty. “We appreciate the support of Agip, Mobil and Shell oil companies in the provision of speed boat.
Bristol Helicopter also provided landing boat for the evacuation of the survivors.Â
“The survivors were rescued because there was adherence in the use of life jacket. The success of this is attributed to the will of God and the recently conducted emergency preparedness simulation of air crash by NEMA,Â LASEMA and other stakeholders.
“Further investigation on the crash will be looked into by the relevant authorities,” he said