Rescuers Find Fourth Body In Petrobras Helicopter Crash, Search Ends

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August 21, 2011

Photo: Agusta Westland AW139 helicopter

RIO DE JANEIRO (Dow Jones)–Brazilian state-run energy giant Petroleo Brasileiro (PBR, PETR4.BR), or Petrobras, said early Sunday that rescuers had located the body of the fourth person who died in a helicopter crash in the Atlantic Ocean off the country’s southeast coast.

Divers are working to recover the bodies of the four men, although rough seas were hindering rescue efforts, Petrobras said. The helicopter and three bodies were located Saturday on the seabed some 100 kilometers off the coast of Rio de Janeiro state in southeast Brazil.

On Friday evening, helicopter pilot Rommel Oliveira Garcia contacted air-traffic control in Macae, an oil-industry hub in the north of the state, to say he was making an emergency landing at sea.

The helicopter, an AgustaWestland AW139, had departed from the P-65 oil rig around 5 p.m. local time on Friday. The P-65 platform operates in the Enchova field, one of the first fields developed by Petrobras in the prolific Campos Basin.

Search-and-rescue operations then started in coordination with the Brazilian air force and navy, together with Petrobras’ own aircraft and ships.

The co-pilot’s name hasn’t been divulged at the request of the family. The passengers were Ricardo Leal de Oliveira, employed by the Engevix engineering firm, and Joao Carlos Pereira da Silva, of Brasitest, which carries out quality-control tests.

The helicopter belongs to the Senior Taxi Aereo company, and was being operated on behalf of Petrobras. On Saturday, Petrobras prohibited the use of the AgustaWestland AW139 helicopter for company related flights. A company spokesman said that it was unclear how long the ban would be in effect.

-By Jeff Fick, Dow Jones Newswires, Matthew Cowley in Sao Paulo contributed to this article.

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