The bodies of three people missing after a helicopter ditched in the sea off Shetland have been recovered.

A fourth person remains unaccounted for.

The Super Puma L2 aircraft went down at 6.20pm last night, around two miles west of Sumburgh airport as it was returning to Shetland from the Borgsten Dolphin platform in the North Sea.

An RNLI spokesman said two of the bodies were recovered by an RNLI lifeboat crew from Lerwick, Shetland.

"The lifeboat crew transported the bodies to Sumburgh and we are liaising with other authorities as things develop, " he said.

"Obviously this is the news that everyone, included our lifeboat volunteers, dreaded - our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of those concerned.

"We can also confirm that one of our lifeboats has also been involved in reclaiming wreckage from the scene as part of the operation."

A police spokeswoman confirmed that 14 of the 18 people on board the helicopter were taken to safety during the immediate rescue response last night.

The coastguard had earlier believed the figure was 15.

Those who were rescued were taken to a hospital on Lerwick, the capital of the Shetland Islands.

A spokeswoman for the coastguard said passengers suffered a range of injuries.

She said: "The people that were involved are in varying stages of injury, no one has walked away from this without a scratch."

Investigators from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) are travelling to the scene.