CUKAI: Nine people cheated death when their helicopter made an emergency landing in a secondary jungle minutes after taking off from the Kerteh Airport en route to the oil platforms off the Terengganu coast.
The pilot Capt Wan Kamil Wan Muda, 43, first officer Abdul Malik Mastuki, 32, and the passengers escaped unharmed in the incident which occurred at 10.56am, about 2km from the airport yesterday.
All of them received outpatient treatment at the nearby Petronas Rantau Clinic.
Oil rig worker Phillip Hamzah, 46, who sprained his right ankle, said he sensed trouble when the Sikorsky S61N helicopter generated a lot of vibrations when taking off.
“It began twirling soon after and I thought all of us were going to die,” he said.
He and other Muslim passengers began reciting verses from the Quran.
However, the pilot managed to land the helicopter among some trees and all of them hurriedly jumped off the aircraft 2m from the ground.
Phillip, who works on the Tapis Alpha oil rig owned by ExxonMobil, said they fled from the scene fearing an explosion.
Another worker Anuar Mokhtar, 33, said he pushed open the emergency window exit in accordance with emergency procedures for the passengers to get out from the helicopter.
“It was a scary experience,” said Anuar who works as a floor man with the Angsi Alpha oil rig owned by Petronas Carigali Sdn Bhd.
MHS Aviation Bhd chief executive officer Ma’sum Mahadi said the company has suspended the operations of the remaining two Sikorsky helicopters in its fleet pending investigations by the Department of Civil Aviation.
He said the three helicopters were about 35 years old.
The company, he said, operates 10 helicopters out of Kerteh Airport for flying workers to the 71 oil platforms operated by Petronas Carigali Sdn Bhd and ExxonMobil off the Terengganu coast.
It is the first time such an incident had taken place in the company’s 35-year history, he added.
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