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Seven die in copter crash off Mumbai

DH News Service, Mumbai, Jan 13 2018, 22:05 IST
A helicopter of the state-owned oil explorer, ONGC Ltd was reported missing in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Mumbai after it lost contact with the Air Traffic Control. Reuters file photo for representation

A helicopter of the state-owned oil explorer, ONGC Ltd was reported missing in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Mumbai after it lost contact with the Air Traffic Control. Reuters file photo for representation

Seven people including five senior officials of the Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and two pilots of Pawan Hans Helicopters were killed when the chopper in which they were flying crashed off the Mumbai coast, on Saturday.

The Pawan Hans helicopter €“ a Dauphin, VT PWA €“ which was on way to the Mumbai High offshore development area of ONGC €“ took off from the Juhu aerodrome around 10.30 am and lost contact with the Air Traffic Control nearly 10 minutes later.

Immediately, a massive search and rescue (S&R) was launched by the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard ships and aircraft were launched from Maharashtra and Gujarat.

The debris was spotted around 1 pm, nearly 22 nautical miles from Uttan Lighthouse off Gorai along the Thane-Palghar districts.

So far, five bodies have been recovered €“ which was initially kept on board ICGS Agrim and then on an ONGC vessel €“ from where it was airlifted by two choppers. While one landed at the Juhu airport another touched down at the Mumbai airport.

The S&R operations would continue over Sunday, IN and ICG officials said.

"It is a sad incident, we are all shocked," Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, said, adding that he would be rushing to Mumbai.

Pradhan said he was in touch with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to coordinate the S&R operations.

ONGC CMD Shashi Shanker air-dashed to Mumbai to monitor the S&R operation, officials said.

The ONGC officers €“ all Deputy General Managers - have been identified as Sarvananan, V K Babu, Jose Anthony, Pankaj Garg and P Srinivasan.

The Pawan Hans pilots have been identified as Capt V C Katoch and Capt Ramesh Oathkar.

Four IN vessels including fast attack craft INS Tarasa and INS Teg, a Boeing P8i and a Seaking helicopter have joined the operations.

The ICG has diverted five ships including ICGS Samudra Prahari, ICGS Agrim and ICGS Achook and two Dornier aircraft and two Chetak helicopters to the crash region for S&R operations.

A pall of gloom descended at Silver Square in Kalina, Santacruz where one of the deceased ONGC staffers Pankaj Garg lived since 15 years with his wife and two daughters. "He was a very nice person, a great human being with a helpful nature. We society members are shocked at this sudden tragedy," Joy Francis, the society's secretary said.

Meanwhile, INS Makar, a naval survey ship with latest side-scan sonar and underwater cameras have sailed from Karwar in Karnataka to augment the S&R.

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