- The Washington Times - Friday, March 13, 2009

ST. JOHN’S, NEWFOUNDLAND (AP) - Canadian rescuers ended a search Friday night for 16 oil workers aboard a helicopter that crashed in the Atlantic, saying there was no likelihood anyone could survive in the frigid waters for more than a day.

The Sikorsky S-92 carrying 18 people was headed to oil platforms off Newfoundland Thursday morning when it reported mechanical problems and ditched into the sea, about 30 miles from shore, officials said.

A rescue helicopter pulled one survivor from the water and recovered one body shortly after the accident. Two life rafts were also spotted but turned out to be empty.

Rescuers held out hope of finding more survivors since those aboard were believed to be wearing survival suits, which serve as life preservers and retain body warmth in frigid waters.

But officials said crews quit the search Friday night after about 34 hours, saying there was almost no chance of survival in the ocean’s near-freezing waters.

“We’ve gone beyond that 24-hour life expectancy time for someone in an immersion suit,” said Maj. Denis McGuire of Halifax’s Joint Rescue Co-ordination Center.

The sister-in-law of one of the missing, Derrick Mullowney, was in tears as she spoke about the accident.

“We only buried his father about a month ago … and now this,” said Sharon Mullowney.

Survivor Robert Decker was hospitalized with a broken bone and hypothermia and listed in critical but stable condition.

The pilot of the helicopter had reported mechanical problems, but the cause of the crash was still being investigated.

The helicopter was en route to oil platforms about 200 miles east of St. John’s.

___

Associated Press writer Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report.

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