Search ongoing for 16 people

A helicopter has ditched in the North Sea off the coast of Scotland. A search for 16 people believed to be onboard the Super Puma helicopter is under way.

A spokesman for the coastguard said that the incident took place about 40 miles north-east of Aberdeen at about 2pm. The aircraft was returning from the Miller oilfield, owned by BP. The search-and-rescue operation includes two RAF helicopters, an RAF Nimrod and two lifeboats. Other boats in the area are also assisting.

The helicopter operator Bond has confirmed that one of its aircraft was involved in the incident. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said that the supply vesselNormand Aurorahad put its fast response boat into the water and was looking for survivors.

The accident comes less than two months after a helicopter with 18 people on board crashed into the sea in the Etap field, 125 miles east of Aberdeen. In that incident – also involving a Super Puma helicopter – all survived.