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Offshore Helicopter Involved In Incident: Coast Guard

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A helicopter has ditched in the North Atlantic off of Newfoundland, with 18 people on board.


The chopper went down about 90 kilometres southeast of St. John's, said Jeri Grychowski of the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Halifax.


She told CTV Newsnet that the chopper was carrying offshore oil workers when it ditched at about 9:18 local time Thursday.


"We currently have a number of both air and sea vessels in the area," she said.


"A provincial airline is providing top cover and they initially reported sighting two people in the water and a life raft as well, though at this time we have no indication of how many, or if any, people are in the life raft."


Grychowski said she believes the chopper was heading from Hibernia's platform to St. John's when it ditched.


However, later reports said Hibernia was referring calls to Husky, which operates the White Rose offshore oil facility.


Air traffic controllers in Gander, N.L. received a mayday radio call Thusday morning , and a rescue effort was scrambled immediately.


A supply ship from St. John's was first on the scene. Four Cormorant helicopters and a Hercules aircraft are en route, along with a Coast Guard ship, Grychowski said.


The ditched helicopter is operated by Cougar Helicopters in St. John's.


NTV reports that journalists are being kept away from the company's headquarters, and police have even blocked off the road leading to Cougar's offices.


Another Cougar helicopter is also now on location, Grychowski said.


Waves are between two and three metres in the area, and winds are roughly 37 kilometres per hour, Grychowski said.


A news conference has been scheduled for 1 a.m. local time.


The emergency room at a St. John's hospital is bracing for a possible influx of patients, according to reports.

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