The Sikorsky S-76 aircraft was en route to an offshore vessel but was forced to make an emergency landing about 159 kilometres off the coast of Bintulu in Sarawak at 7:42am local time due to a sudden shift in weather conditons, according to Malaysian media reports.
The foreign workers, who are believed to be from France, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Canada, were reported to be employed by a contractor of state-owned Petronas Carigali.
“After the emergency landing, they were picked up by a vessel nearby that took them to shore,” Bintulu police chief superintendent Madang Usat was quoted as saying by New Straits Times.
The pilot and co-pilot were said to have suffered minor injuries, with all survivors transported to a hospital in Miri for medical checks.
Petronas said in a statement: “The incident occurred when the helicopter was about to make a controlled landing aboard a vessel carrying out seismic work.”
The aircraft, leased by the oil company for a flight to identify oil and gas exploration sites, was reported to have sunk after the crash.
The incident will now be investigated by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, according to another police official.