Four people dead after helicopter crashes on way to Indian oil rig

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A Pawan Hans helicopter crashed off the Mumbai coast with seven people on board, including two pilots.

The Dauphin chopper, VT PWA, took off at 10.20 am.

Chopper last contacted the oil rig air traffic control at around 10.30am.

"Five bodies have been recovered", an Indian navy spokesperson said. Three bodies were recovered later.

The search operation is being steered by the ONGC top Management. 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.

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"We have deployed all our choppers, including ones from each of our naval bases, to search for the missing chopper", said senior ONGC official RK Mishra. Sources from the oil firm confirmed that while the total weight of the officials' baggage was 20 kilograms, the weight of the cargo was recorded as 73 kilograms.

According to the Indian Coast Guard, the Pawan Hans Helicopter was flying from Juhu in Mumbai to the Offshore Development Area. The floating debris was also recovered by the ship.

With the scheduled landing at North Field of ONGC at 10.58 am, the helicopter has gone missing at around 10.40 am.

Speaking further on the search operation, the statement said: "One IN Dornier aircraft has completed the search and one P8I Long Range aircraft has conjoined the search with two SAR kits". "A BoI [Boad of Inquiry] will ascertain the exact cause of the tragedy", added the official. ICG ship Agrim picked up three bodies near the crash site. One of them, Jose Antony, 54, deputy general manager, belonged to Kothamangalam, Ernakulam district, and the two others, V.K. Bindu Lal Babu, 49, deputy general manager, to Chalakkudy, and P.N. Sreenivasan, 59, staffer, to Punkunnam, both in Thrissur district.

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