Divers pull out 13 victims, one pilot from helicopter wreckage

  • 2005-08-12
  • By The Baltic Times
TALLINN 's Finnish divers have pulled out 13 bodies from the wreckage of Wednesday's helicopter accident on the sea floor in Tallinn Bay. The body of one pilot was found on Friday, and efforts continue to locate the body of the second.

Police chief Robert Antropov said both pilots' passports were found in the helicopter cabin.

Preparations are now underway to lifting the wreck to the surface, the Baltic News Service reported.

Authorities are still unclear why the helicopter, which had just departed from Tallinn and was headed to Helsinki, suddenly crashed into the sea.

Economy Minister Edgar Savisaar said the crash could have occurred as a result of technical problems and that weather was not likely to be a factor.

speaking to Finland's Helsingin Sanomat daily, an experienced helicopter pilot said the crash, which claimed 14 lives, may have happened as a result of the helicopter's colliding with a large bird.

The pilot, Matti Jokinen, called it strange that both pilots had lost control over the helicopter. "It could be that they hit something, such as a bird the size of a goose," Jokinen said, recalling that a bird once shattered a window of the helicopter he was piloting and ended up inside.

Jokinen, a pilot of 30 years who in 1982 had to make an emergency landing at sea because of fuel system malfunction, said it was obvious that no emergency landing was involved, and the helicopter dived right into the water.

Control over a helicopter can be lost when a rotor blade breaks off, he added. "There's nothing you can do then. There's such a strong vibration that people will lose consciousness," he said.

Savisaar said a commission investigating the crash is not linking it to a possible terrorist act. He added that statements by eyewitnesses who said they heard two large bangs before the helicopter came down were crucial. "These sounds may have been generated when the rotor blades separated from the craft," the minister said.