Four die as ONGC chopper falls into sea off Mumbai coast

Pawan Hans helicopter. Representational image.

New Delhi: Four persons died after a Pawan Hans helicopter fell into the Arabian Sea about 50 nautical miles from the Mumbai coast on Tuesday.

Besides two pilots, six of the seven passengers were ONGC (Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited) employees. ONGC tweeted that though all nine were rescued from the sea, “unfortunately, four of them, brought unconscious to the Mumbai base and taken to the hospital, lost the battle of life”.

The helicopter, said to be a brand new Sikorsky chopper that Pawan Hans had recently taken on lease, was attempting to land at ONGC rig, Sagar Kiran, some 50 nautical miles from the Mumbai coast, when the incident took place.

About 1.5 km from the landing zone on the rig, the chopper went into the sea but not before it fully inflated its floaters that helped it to stay afloat, the official said.

The circumstances that led to the incident were not immediately known.

ONGC and Navy scrambled vessels for the rescue.

While ONGC vessel Malviya-16 rescued four persons, one person was pulled out by rescue boat from the rig Sagar Kiran.

ONGC has key oil and gas fields off the Mumbai coast and Pawan Hans helicopters routinely ferry company employees and officers to the oil installations that are situated as far as 160 kilometers from the coastline.

The fields in the offshore include Mumbai High, the nation's largest oil field, and Bassein fields, the largest gas field.

The helicopter crash is not the first accident in ONGC's history. In August 2003, a Mi-172 helicopter crashed off the Mumbai coast killing 27 people and the pilot on board.

On January 13, 2018, a Pawan Hans helicopter with seven people on board, including five ONGC officers and two pilots, crashed off the Mumbai coast minutes after it took off for the state-owned company's oil installation in the Arabian Sea. All seven died.

In 2002, a Dauphin helicopter hired by ONGC crashed into the sea but the 10 passengers were rescued.

In April 2003, a Bell 412 helicopter ferrying ONGC personnel crashed while landing at the Juhu aerodrome.

The Navy had deployed the Seaking and ALH helicopters and Indian Naval Ship Teg for the rescue of passengers and crew of the ONGC helicopter 60 nautical miles from Mumbai.

The Coast Guard also diverted a ship to reach the spot, while another ship sailed out from Mumbai with dispatch to join the rescue operations.

The Coast Guard aircraft also dropped life rafts for survivors and the international safety net was activated by the Marine Rescue Coordination Centre (Mumbai), the defence official said.


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