OSLO A helicopter ferrying passengers from a Norwegian oil platform crashed in the North Sea on Friday, apparently killing all 13 people on board, rescue officials said.
The 11 passengers and two crew on the flight from the Gullfaks B oil platform, operated by Norway’s Statoil (STL.OL), were all Norwegian except for one British and one Italian national, according to the Rescue Coordination Centre for Southern Norway.
“The helicopter is completely destroyed,” it said. After several hours searching for survivors, 11 bodies were found and the remaining two people were presumed dead.
Norway and Britain suspended commercial flights of the type of helicopter involved in the crash, an Airbus Helicopters H225 Super Puma, a workhorse of the offshore oil industry.
Airbus later said the grounding had been extended to the whole commercial fleet, 70 percent of which is used to support the global oil industry from the Gulf of Mexico to Asia and Africa.
Plumes of smoke rose from the scene in a stretch of sea with many small islands and debris could be seen on the rocks.
Several witnesses told Norwegian media they saw the rotor blades separating from the helicopter while still in the air.
“While I looked up, the rotor