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Four killed as helicopter crashes into Lagos lagoon

Update: August, 13/2015 - 11:00

LAGOS — At least four people were killed and six injured when a helicopter returning from an oil rig plunged into a lagoon in Nigeria's commercial hub Lagos on Wednesday.

The twin-engine Sikorsky, operated by the US-based Bristow Group, came down behind a police station in the Oworonshoki area in the city's north, according to the National Emergency Management Agency. Two people were still missing, it said.

"Four dead bodies (have been) recovered so far," said NEMA spokesman Ibrahim Farinloye, adding that the injured had been taken to two hospitals.

"Efforts are still on to find the remaining passengers as well as the debris of the helicopter," Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode's office said in a statement.

A witness told Channels TV news station the helicopter made a loud noise before nose-diving into the water near the 12-kilometre (seven-mile) Third Mainland Bridge, the longest of three bridges connecting Lagos Island to the mainland.

Texas-based Bristow's fleet of around 500 helicopters services the global energy industry and it has transportation operations in Nigeria and most other major offshore oil and gas producing regions of the world.

The company released a statement confirming the crash and saying the helicopter had been on approach to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport.

"The aircraft, a Sikorsky S-76C+, was returning from a drilling rig offshore. Preliminary information indicates that the aircraft carried 10 passengers and a crew of two, subject to confirmation," the statement said.

It said Bristow had mobilised its incident response team and was "fully cooperating" with local authorities involved in the rescue effort.

"Our thoughts are with those affected by this accident," Bristow's Africa director Duncan Moore was quoted as saying.

"Our highest priority is to take care of our crew and clients and their family members and provide them with any assistance needed." The nationalities of the passengers and crew has not been revealed.

"We have four of the survivors at the Gbagada General Hospital while two others are at a private hospital... where they are being attended to as a sort of first aid pending when their condition improves and they will be transferred to the general hospital," Lagos State Deputy Governor Oluranti Adebule told reporters.

Sikorsky says its S-76 range has built up an "outstanding and enviable" record for safety and reliability over 30 years of improvement and six million hours in flight.

Before the Lagos accident the model had been involved in just two crashes with multiple fatalities since the turn of the century, in 2002 and 2005.

There have been several military helicopter accidents across Nigeria in recent years, but air crashes involving private choppers have been relatively rare.— AFP

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