ONGC helicopter with 7 onboard goes missing off Mumbai coast; 4 bodies found

Last Updated: Sat, Jan 13, 2018 16:26 hrs
Pawan Hans

New Delhi: At least four people were killed on Saturday after the Pawan Hans Dauphin N2 helicopter, crashed off the Mumbai coast.

The Indian Coast Guard confirmed that four bodies have been fished out and it has launched three helicopters, Dornier surveillance aircraft and three ships in search of the other three missing people on board the helicopter.

The Navy said it had deployed its stealth frigate INS Teg for the search operation while surveillance aircraft P8i is also being pressed into service.

"Two Immediate Support Vessels (ISV)s deployed for patrol in the area have been diverted for search and rescue operations along with three Coast Guard units. Seaking 42B helicopter is being launched in addition," a Navy spokesperson said.

The aircraft, carrying five employees of India’s state-run oil exploration arm ONGC and two pilots, lost contact with air traffic control 15 minutes after taking off from the western city at around 10:25am local time Saturday.

The helicopter had been leased to ONGC by the state-owned Pawan Hans helicopter firm.

“Seven people were on board including two pilots. Currently search and rescue operations are on, so, we hope to have an update soon,” Pawan Hans chairman, BP Sharma, said without giving further details.

The chopper was supposed to land at offshore oil rig Bombay High at 11am, the Press Trust of India reported citing unnamed sources.

It was reportedly 30 nautical miles off the western coast before going off-radar.

“@indiannavy and @IndiaCoastGuard are extending all possible assistance in the #SAR Search and Rescue of @ONGC_ helicopter and pax on board. Wish for their safety,” Nirmala Sitharaman, India’s defence minister, said on Twitter.

The navy and coast guard deployed a ship, several boats and aircraft for search and rescue operations.

“A Dornier aircraft and helicopters from Daman (near Dahanu) have also been launched,” a Coast Guard spokesperson said. The spokesperson added that “some debris has been located”, but did not say if it belonged to the chopper.

In 2003, dozens were feared dead when an ONGC helicopter crashed into the sea on its way to an offshore exploration site.

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