- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 14, 2009

ST. JOHN’S, NEWFOUNDLAND (AP) - Canadian investigators found what they think is the wreckage of a helicopter that crashed in the freezing Atlantic with 18 aboard, saying Saturday their main goal is to recover any of the 16 missing bodies that may still be inside.

Rescue efforts turned to recovery as officials said there was almost no chance of survival so long after Thursday’s crash.

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

One survivor and one body were recovered from the water shortly after the crash. Survivor Robert Decker is listed in critical but stable condition.

The Transportation Safety Board said an underwater remote-controlled camera confirmed Saturday what they thought was the chopper fuselage, largely intact and lying on its side 120 meters (393 feet) below the ocean’s surface. Lead investigator Mike Cunningham said investigators hope to use such cameras to determine whether the bodies are inside.

Officials hope to begin lifting the wreckage Monday or Tuesday, Cunningham said.

“We want to ideally bring everything up in one piece,” he said.

The safety board launched an investigation into what led to the crash.

Rescuers ended their search Friday night for possible survivors after about 34 hours. Officials believe those aboard were wearing survival suits, which serve as life preservers and retain body warmth in frigid waters. However, life expectancy in the suits is 24 hours.

Recovery efforts began Saturday, with the TSB launching an investigation into what went wrong.

An aunt identified the only body recovered so far as that of her niece, Allison Maher.

Ada Kenny said Saturday that the family is distraught.

“They are quite comforted, but then they’re quite saddened by the ones who haven’t found anyone,” Kenny said through tears.


Associated Press writer Charmaine Noronha in Toronto contributed to this report.

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