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Mumbai: At least five dead as chopper with ONGC employees crashes, search ops underway

Mumbai chopper crash: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman took to Twitter to inform that Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard are extending all possible assistance in the search and rescue operation for the VTPWA Dauphin AS 365 N3 helicopter and its personnel onboard.

| New Delhi | Updated: January 13, 2018 7:39:47 pm
Mumbai: At least four dead as chopper with ONGC employees crashes, search ops underway This is the site where the ONGC aircraft ditched. Four bodies have been recovered. Seven, including two pilots, were on-board.

A Pawan Hans helicopter with five ONGC employees and two pilots on board crashed off the coast of Dahanu near Mumbai on Saturday. So far five bodies have been recovered and search operations for the two other missing are underway.

“5th Body found, being brought back on board ICGS Agrim,” tweeted SpokespersonNavy.

According to officials, the Pawanhans helicopter took off from from the Juhu helibase (HB) at 10.13 am on Saturday. It contacted the radio room HB at 10.18 am and then changed over to Air Traffic Control or ATC, Juhu Mumbai . At 10.45am, ONCG called up Radio Room of the Juhu Helibase appraising that they have lost contact with the chopper.

“Chopper was reportedly was trying to return to Juhu after flying about 30 miles when it lost all contact,” said a senior Defence official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “A BoI will ascertain the exact cause of the tragedy,” added the official.

“ICG ship Agrim picked up three bodies. Debris of helicopter located near Dahanu. Four bodies were recovered by Agrim. Two bodies belonged to passengers. They have been identified as Pankaj Garg and Bindulal Babu. Two ICG helicopters, two Dornier aircraft and five ships have been pressed in,” said Coast Guard Commander Western Seaboard, Additional Director General Krishnaswamy Natarajan.

“One Pawanhans Helicopter of ONGC flying from Juhu #Mumbai to ODA Offshore Development Area lost at Sea this morning. Total crew on board 05 besides two pilot. Large scale @IndiaCoastGuard SAR Operation underway. Debris located by CG Ship and one body recovered @DefenceMinIndia,” the Indian Coast Guard wrote on Twitter.

Mumbai: At least four dead as chopper with ONGC employees crashes, search ops underway Rescue and search operations being carried out by Indian Coast Guard

Sources added that while Garg’s body was identified by his identity card, Babu’s was identified through his driving license found in the wallet. The other three passengers on-board the ill-fated aircraft are- Sarvannan, Jose Anthony and P Shrinivasan. “Search and rescue operations are underway to locate them. With every passing hour, the possibility of rescuing them alive bleaks,” added the official.

“Currently five speedboats, one MSV and One chopper from ONGC have been deployed in the area to conduct search operations. The Coast Guard and Indian Navy are also extending all supports to beef up the search operations by deploying choppers and rescue boats,” said ONGC in a statement.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman took to Twitter to inform that Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard are extending all possible assistance in the search and rescue operation for the VTPWA Dauphin AS 365 N3 helicopter and its personnel onboard.

Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has reacted to the incident. “Spoke to Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and requested for help from Coast Guard and other agencies in the search and rescue operations; CMDONGC has rushed to Mumbai; pray for safety of the ONGC officers and the pilots,” he wrote on Twitter.

“We have deployed all our choppers including from each of our naval bases in search of the missing chopper. It is a Pawan Hans chopper, carrying five employees. We are working towards finding the chopper at the earliest,” a senior ONGC official said earlier.

“2X Immediate Support Vehicles (ISV) already deployed for patrol in area have been diverted for search and rescue along with 3 X Indian Coast Guard units already in area. Seaking 42B helicopter being launched in addition,” the Navy spokesperson said. “One more ship leaving Mumbai harbour. One Dornier getting airborne to join search. One Skg42C standing by at Colaba air station,” it added.

The reason behind the incident is yet to be ascertained. Meanwhile, the pilots have been identified  as Captain V Katoch and Captain Ramesh Othakar.

Mumbai: At least four dead as chopper with ONGC employees crashes, search ops underway Site where the ONGC aircraft ditched.

President Ram Nath Kovind expressed grief at the loss of lives and said : “Sad to learn about Pawan Hans helicopter crash off the coast of Mumbai. Thoughts with families of those who have lost their lives.”

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis also expressed condolences and tweeted,”I am also pained to hear about the loss of lives in PawanHans helicopter crash off the Mumbai coast. Our deep condolences to the bereaved families.”

Meanwhile, a boat carrying around 40 school students capsized off the coast of Dahanu at 11.30 am in Mumbai on Saturday. Read more here.

(With inputs from ENS Mumbai)

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