Monday, Jan 22, 2018 | Last Update : 11:33 AM IST
Officials said that helicopters are often used to ferry the company’s employees for routine inspections to as far as 160 kms offshore.
Mumbai: A Pawan Hans helicopter crashed off the Mumbai coast on Saturday morning with seven people on board, including two pilots. The helicopter lost contact with the air traffic control shortly after it took off from the Juhu Aerodrome at 10.20 am. It is believed to have crashed into the Arabian Sea at 10.40 am. Officials said that they are still trying to reconstruct the last moments before the mishap occurred. Among those on board were officials from the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), who were headed for the offshore development area in the north fields of Mumbai High and two pilots.
The Indian Navy, the Coast Guard launched search and rescue operations and the bodies of ONGC deputy general manager Pankaj Garg and V. K. Bindu Lal Babu were recovered near the debris of the helicopter. R. Saravanan, P. N. Sreenivasan, Jose Anthony and pilots Captain Ohatkar and Captain Katoch were also on board. Four of the five bodies recovered have been brought to Nanavati Hospital, said sources and will be handed over to the families after post mortem. The search for the remaining two bodies is still on.
The helicopter was supposed to land at Bombay High at 11 am and communication was normal until ONGC’s check point “Papa,” but was lost immediately after it was 15 minutes in air and 30 nautical miles off shore. Officials said that helicopters are often used to ferry the company’s employees for routine inspections to as far as 160 kms offshore.
The ONGC statement said, “Dauphin N3 helicopter had taken off from Juhu helibase and was scheduled to land at Mumbai High. ONGC confirms that the Pawan Hans chopper with seven persons, including two pilots, and five ONGC officers crashed in the sea today morning. ONGC pressed into action all resources to conduct search operations immediately.”
It further stated, “ONGC along with coast guard and Indian Navy are combing the area where the chopper has apparently crashed.”
Union petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan tweeted: “Spoke to defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and requested for help from Coast Guard and other agencies in the search and rescue operations; CMD ONGC has rushed to Mumbai.”
Further probe is underway
Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) officials have said that the aircraft accident investigation body (AAIB) will probe the crash as it is an apex body that usually investigates all serious incidents. This is also not the finest time that ONGC has seen such a tragedy. In August 2003, a Mi-172 helicopter had crashed off the Mumbai coast killing 27 of the company’s employees as well as the pilot on board.