Norwegian rescue officials said Friday the search operation after a helicopter crash near Bergen is over and that all 13 people on board the aircraft are presumed dead.
Boerge Galta of the Joint Rescue Coordination Center said “we do not believe anyone can be found alive.” The operation was called off at 5 p.m. local time after 11 bodies were found.
The cause of the crash was not immediately known.
The Airbus EC-225 helicopter was carrying 11 Norwegians, one Briton and one Italian from the Gullfaks B oil field in the North Sea to Bergen, 74 miles away on the Norwegian mainland, when it crashed shortly after noon, said Jon Sjursoe, a spokesman for the Joint Rescue Coordination Center.
Police spokesman Morten Kronen said the helicopter “totally smashed” as it hit the tiny island of Turoey, near Bergen, and that 11 victims were found on land.
The helicopter’s fuselage was found in the water off the island while its rotor system was on land, Sjursoe told the Associated Press.
“It is a very small island and [helicopter] parts are spread partly on land, partly in the sea,” Sjursoe said.
Norwegian media posted photos of huge billows of smoke. Witness Rebecca Andersen told the Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang that the helicopter’s “rotor blades came rushing toward us.”
“Then we heard a violent explosion,” Andersen was quoted as saying.