Helicopter with seven on board goes missing off Mumbai; six bodies recovered

A Search and Rescue Operation by the Indian Coast Guard is underway. Photo: Coast Guard  

A Pawan Hans helicopter with five deputy general managers of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and two crew members was lost to the sea on Saturday while on a routine sortie between Juhu heliport and the offshore rigs.

The helicopter, a 2010-make Dauphin, crashed barely 15 minutes after it took off from the heliport for the North Field of ONGC. Officials said the chopper was airborne at 10.20 a.m. and lost contact at 10.35 a.m. when it had flown 30 nautical miles.

The Coast Guard and Indian Navy, who on intimation immediately launched a Search and Rescue (SAR) operation, confirmed that the helicopter had crashed into the Arabian Sea.

The Coast Guard teams recovered floating debris and the bodies of the five ONGC officials, identified as Sarvannan, V.K. Babu, Jose Anthony, Pankaj Garg and P. Shrinivasan.

The bodies along with other floating debris were later handed over to the ONGC which later flew them in two separate helicopters to Mumbai, where they were received by Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan. The bodies were then taken to Cooper Hospital for post-mortem.

The helicopter was flown by Capt. V.C. Katoch and Capt. Ramesh Oathkar, both with several thousand hours of flying experience behind them.

A Coast Guard spokesperson said the SAR operation was called off at sunset, and that the fuselage of the helicopter was yet to be found. A search for the two pilots will resume on Sunday morning with Coast Guard’s five ships, two Dornier aircraft and two helicopters. Indian Navy has also deployed a water jet fast attack craft, along with a Boeing P8i aircraft and Sea King helicopter.

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Printable version | Sep 29, 2021 1:30:50 AM |

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