Image: families grieve after crash
Matt Stamey  /  AP
People grieve after learning that loved ones were among those who died when a helicopter went down in a marshy area of southwestern Louisiana on Sunday.
updated 1/5/2009 11:23:43 AM ET 2009-01-05T16:23:43

Eight people were killed and a ninth was reported critically injured after a helicopter bound for the offshore oil fields crashed Sunday afternoon in marshlands about 100 miles southwest of New Orleans.

The helicopter, operated by PHI Inc., crashed about 3:30 p.m. shortly after taking off from PHI's base in Amelia, said Richard Rovinelli, a spokesman for the company. The cause of the crash isn't clear. Rovenilli did not know the type of helicopter or its exact destination.

He said the helicopter was carrying two pilots and six passengers. Identities of the victims have not yet been released. Rovinelli said the survivor was taken to a local hospital.

The National Transportation Safety Board has been advised of the crash and investigators were expected to arrive Monday, Rovinelli said.

Petty Officer Jaclyn Young told The Times-Picayune newspaper the Coast Guard assisted Terrebonne Parish sheriff's deputies in searching for and recovering the bodies of the dead and rescuing the survivor. A spokesman for the sheriff's office could not be reached for comment.

Lafayette-based PHI is a primary provider of helicopter services to oil and gas platforms that dot the coast of Louisiana. It also flies medical helicopters.

Workers typically are flown to and from their worksites from coastal flight bases.

Houma Today reported that the chopper crashed in a marshy area near Bayou Penchant that was only accessible by airboat, hindering recovery efforts.

In June, a PHI Air Medical helicopter crashed in Texas, killing four. The accident in the Sam Houston National Forest killed the pilot, paramedic, nurse and a patient who was being transported from Huntsville to Houston. That crew agreed to transport the patient after another helicopter company abandoned the mission saying that cloud cover was too low, making visibility poor in the early-morning darkness.

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Video: Deadly crash

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