Helicopter Reported Missing in U.S. Gulf

A helicopter with three people on board was reported missing about 70 miles south of Louisiana in Vermilion Bay, according to a statement by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Another helicopter heard a mayday call sent out by the OMNI Aviation aircraft at about 1:50 p.m., according to Chad Saylor, a Coast Guard spokesman in New Orleans. The aircraft is owned by OMNI Energy Services Corp., based in Carencro.

"Rescue aircraft are focused on searching and seeing if we might be able to find any survivors, and checking the validity of the report because right now we're going off of a mayday call heard in the area," Saylor said. The Coast Guard sent two Dolphin helicopters from its air station in New Orleans and a Falcon rescue jet from its Aviation Training Center in Mobile, Alabama.

Saylor said OMNI confirmed that one of its helicopters was missing. An OMNI official declined to comment Thursday afternoon, saying he did not have enough information about the incident.

Inclement weather has hampered the search efforts, as low visibility, winds and thunderstorms have been reported in the search area; however, the Coast Guard continues to search for any survivors.

The Coast Guard said the helicopter left Eugene Island 349 at about 12:58 p.m. en route to Abbeville and then changed course to Intracoastal City about 40 minutes later. There was a pilot and two passengers aboard the craft.

The helicopter was described as a white-and-red Bell 206L, the Coast Guard said.

According to the company Web site, OMNI helicopters are used during seismic surveys and to transport personnel to and from work sites. OMNI provides services to geophysical and exploration and production companies in the oil and natural gas industry.