ABERDEEN, Scotland -- A helicopter ditched in the stormy North Sea today while ferrying six oil workers to an offshore rig, and searchers later sighted what appeared to be three or four bodies floating in the water, a coast guard official said.
The official said he was checking a report that a survivor was picked up by one of the search vessels.
He said two upturned liferafts were sighted following the pre-dawn crash.
The helicopter was on a routine shuttle flight linking oil platforms when it lost contact with air controllers at 4:32 a.m. (11:32 p.m. EDT Monday) about 85 miles northeast of the Shetland Islands off Scotland's northeast coast, a coast guard spokesman said.
It had intended to pick up an injured man aboard a supply ship, he said.
Coast guard officials said they believed the people aboard were British employees of Shell Oil Co.
Four helicopters, a Royal Air Force Nimrod reconnaissance plane, a U.S. Air Force plane and several boats were looking for the six people who were aboard the aircraft, which ditched near the Murchison oil field in 40 mph winds and 10-foot waves.
Taking part in the search were three other Bell helicopters, a Sea King helicopter from Norway, a U.S. Air Force Orion aircraft and a number of vessels in the area at the time of the accident.