MUMBAI: A Pawan Hans helicopter with five ONGC personnel and two pilots on board today crashed off the city coast while heading to an oil rig at Mumbai High, and three bodies have been found, a senior Coast Guard official said today.
The chopper Dauphin N3 had gone missing after taking off from Juhu aerodrome at 10.30 AM.
"The Coast Guard confirms that its ships picked up three bodies from the site of Pawan Hans helicopter crash off the Mumbai coast," a Coast Guard spokesperson said.
The chopper, bearing registration number VT-PWA, was scheduled to land at the designated oil rig at Mumbai High at 11 am. Five employees of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and two pilots were on board the chopper.
The Navy said it had deployed its stealth frigate INS Teg for the search operation while surveillance aircraft P8i was also pressed into service.
The Coast Guard had also diverted its ships to search the missing chopper.
A senior Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) official said that the aircraft accident investigation body AAIB will probe the Pawan Hans chopper crash.
"Since it is a clear accident, this chopper crash will be probed by the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB)," the official told PTI.
He said the DGCA will extend all necessary help to the AAIB in conducting the probe.
AAIB is the apex body which probes serious incidents and accidents involving aircraft registered in India and comes under the civil aviation ministry.
Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha expressed deep anguish over the loss of lives.
"IndiaCoastGuard Ship on receipt of information reached area, located the debris, picked up a body at 1230 hrs," he said on Twitter.
"So far resulted in 03 body recovery. Search & rescue operations are underway. Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau will launch thorough inquiry (sic)," he tweeted.