DOCTORS ARE expected to conduct a DNA test on the sixth body recovered off the Mumbai coast after a Pawan Hans Dauphine N3 helicopter with seven people on board crashed into the Arabian Sea Saturday morning. Officials said the body was said to be that of ONGC deputy general manager V K Bindu Lal Babu. His wife Shyni, a Vasai resident, who visited Mumbai Saturday night for identification, however, said it was not. “It is not my husband’s body. He is yet to be identified,” she told The Indian Express.
So far, the bodies of ONGC officers Pankaj Garg, R Saravanan, P N Sreenivasan and Jose Antony, and pilot Ramesh Ohatkar have been recovered and identified. Search operations continue to locate the other pilot, Captain V C Katoch. On Saturday, five senior ONGC officials and two pilots took off from the Juhu helibase at 10.13 am for the ONGC oil rig at Bombay High. At 10.45 am, ONGC informed the air traffic control that it had lost contact with the chopper.
“The bodies are beyond recognition. We are conducting DNA tests to ascertain the identity only if required or requested by families,” said Dr Ganesh Shinde, dean at Dr RN Cooper Hospital where the bodies were brought after they were recovered. According to a forensic expert, some bodies were also found in a bloated state because of submergence in water.
On Sunday, the family of Captain Katoch reached Mumbai from Chandigarh. His wife and two daughters, who remained in their Santacruz flat in Pawan Hans colony, refrained from talking to anyone while search operations continued. “They are hopeful and we are all praying to God,” said a neighbour. Katoch joined Pawan Hans 11 years ago as a pilot. Previously, he worked with Army Aviation where he was posted as a Lieutenant Colonel. He and Ohatkar lived in the Pawan Hans colony and were both considered highly experienced helicopter pilots.
After the sixth body became unidentifiable, a decision to conduct DNA test was taken, according to a Pawan Hans official.
Meanwhile, the family of ONGC deputy general manager Jose Antony took his mortal remains to Kochi early Sunday morning. Antony, who had moved into the ONGC officers’ quarters in Bandra Reclamation less than a year ago, lived there with his wife Rani and daughters Reshmita and Rinita.
Sunday afternoon, the family of deputy general manager P N Sreenivasan also cremated his body. His body was brought from Nanavati Hospital to the Bandra quarters at 10.30 am, where it stayed for half an hour as family members, friends and colleagues paid their last respects.
The body of R Saravanan was also flown to his native place Sunday. Saravanan, who was living in Andheri East in the ONGC’s bachelor quarters, was earlier living with his wife and son in Juhu’s New ONGC Colony. “He lived here three years ago. Then his wife and son moved outside Mumbai and he shifted to another flat. We were all shocked to hear of his death. He always treated us well. I remember the entire family would go for a drive on weekends when they lived here,” said a security guard at Juhu’s gated colony.