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Roundup: 5 killed, 2 missing as helicopter crashes in India

Xinhua,January 14, 2018 Adjust font size:

by Peerzada Arshad Hamid

NEW DELHI, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) -- Five people were killed and two others went missing on Saturday after a civilian helicopter carrying officials from state-owned oil and natural gas corporation (ONGC) crashed in India's western state of Maharashtra, officials said.

The chopper with seven people on board, five ONGC officials and two pilots, crashed minutes after take-off from Juhu airport in Mumbai, the capital city of Maharashtra.

"Five bodies have been recovered," an Indian navy spokesperson said. "Wreckage and life jackets were also recovered."

According to navy officials, the bodies were brought back on ONGC OSV Hull Anand to Mumbai.

Officials said the Pawan Hans helicopter deployed with ONGC took off at 10:20 a.m. local time from Juhu airport and lost the communication with the air traffic control (ATC) Mumbai 15 minutes later.

Following the loss of contact with the ATC, the Indian coast guard officials and the navy pressed in rescue teams including ships and aircraft to search the missing chopper.

The chopper was thought to be flying 55 km off the Mumbai shoreline when it lost communication and crashed.

Reports said the helicopter was flying to the ONGC's Bombay High oilfields, 175 km northwest of Mumbai.

Of the five bodies recovered so far, one has been identified as that of Pankaj Garg, a top official of ONGC.

"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," a statement issued by ONGC said.

"ONGC vessels and choppers along with the coast guard and the Indian navy are combing the area where the chopper has apparently crashed."

Identity of other bodies was being ascertained.

"Identification of the bodies is in the process," the ONGC statement said.

The cause of helicopter crash was not immediately known as ONGC said the reason behind the unfortunate incident is yet to be ascertained.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ramnath Kovind have expressed sorrow over the loss of lives in the helicopter crash.

Officials said the rescue teams were carrying out searches until last reports poured in.

Pawan Hans Helicopters Limited a government-owned company and provides chopper services for off-shore operations, connecting inaccessible areas, VIP transportation, pilgrim services and promotion of tourism. Enditem