OTTAWA — “The likelihood of finding survivors is no longer there” and the search for the 16 missing passengers of the helicopter crash off Canada’s Atlantic coast will end Friday evening, officials said Friday.
The announcement comes more than 30 hours after a chopper heading to an oil platform crashed into icy waters off the Island province of Newfoundland with 18 people on board.
One survivor was rescued from the water on Thursday and is being treated in hospital for injuries. One death has been confirmed but 16 others are now presumed dead.
“It appears there are no survivors,” said the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centers Maj. Denis McGuire Friday noon, adding that rescue crews had repeatedly searched a massive area of open water with no sign of life.
The search will officially end at 7:30 p.m. local time (2200 GMT), he told the Canadian Press.
The operation will now be handed over to the Transportation Safety Board and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), who will conduct a missing persons investigation.
The chopper, on route from St. John’s, capital of Newfoundland to the Hibernia offshore oil platform, crashed about 65 kilometers southeast of St. John’s at about 9:18 a.m. local time (1148 GMT) Thursday.
Mechanical problems are being blamed as the cause of the crash, but the nature of the problems remains unclear. The plane plunged into the water eight minutes after the pilot issued a distress call.
The crash is the first time a helicopter carrying offshore oil workers has gone down since oil was first pumped in the area in 1997. The choppers are essentially shuttles for workers coming on and off shift.
In 1982, the then-developing industry was rocked when 84 men died when the Ocean Ranger, a drilling rig that was exploring for oil in the region, sank during a winter storm.