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Thu, Mar 25, 2004

Helicopter Feared Lost In Gulf Of Mexico

Aircraft Was Enroute To Oil Platform

Unocal Corporation announced Wednesday that contact was lost with an Era Aviation helicopter that was in route to a drilling location in the Gulf of Mexico Tuesday evening at about 7:15 p.m. CST. The helicopter, with eight passengers and two crew members aboard, was last contacted about 70 miles south of Galveston while transporting workers to a drill ship. The sea vessel was in transit to a drill site i200 miles south of Galveston. The helicopter operator, Era Aviation of Lake Charles (LA), is under contract to Unocal.

Search and rescue operations are under way by the U.S. Coast Guard units, based out of Corpus Christi (TX), and by private air and sea transportation services that are lending their support to the search effort. The U.S. Coast Guard's Operation Center in New Orleans is coordinating and overseeing the Coast Guard's search and rescue response to this incident. Helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft rescue crews from Coast Guard air stations in Corpus Christi and Houston, as well as the Coast Guard Cutter Manta, an 87-foot patrol boat from Freeport, are searching for the missing aircraft and crew.

The passengers included four employees of Halliburton, one from Dril-Quip, two from Offshore Energy Services, all contracted to Unocal; and one Unocal employee. Company officials are in the process of contacting next of kin; their names will not be released until then.

Update: Victims and wreckage were reportedly located on Wednesday, recovery efforts are underway and no survivors are expected to be found.

FMI: www.era-aviation.com/fd_Bell_412.stm

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