LERWICK, Scotland — A Chinook helicopter carrying 44 oil workers and three crewmen from an offshore rig crashed in the frigid North Sea today, and officials said 45 of the 47 people aboard were lost.
There were two confirmed survivors, 19 confirmed dead and 26 missing.
The Coast Guard called off its air search for survivors at nightfall, but five boats with lights and infrared scanners to detect body heat were sent to the area where the copter plunged into the cold North Sea waters and 10-foot waves.
But six hours after the midday crash, RAF spokesman Norman McLeod said: "I would say at this stage it is highly unlikely any other survivors will be found. They have been in that cold water for hours now."
The twin-rotor aircraft, chartered by the exploration arm of Shell U.K. Ltd., crashed just two miles off the Shetland Islands as it approached the Sumburgh Head airport in winds of 15 to 21 m.p.h., rescue officials said.