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ONGC chopper falls into sea; all 9 rescued, 4 taken to hospital

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NEW DELHI: A Pawan Hans helicopter, with two pilots and seven others including six ONGC employees onboard, fell into the Arabian Sea about 50 nautical miles from the Mumbai coast but managed to stay afloat with the help of the attached floaters, helping in the rescue of all the nine people.

Four of the nine rescued by ONGC and Navy vessels were unconscious and taken to hospital, a company official said.

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. Navy choppers airlifted four unconscious persons to hospitals in Mumbai, the official said.

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.

“#Helicopter mishap in #Arabian Sea near #ONGC rig Sagar Kiran in #Mumbai High; carrying 7 passengers & 2 pilots,” ONGC tweeted in the morning.

#SAR #RescueAtSea All nine survivors rescued. Four survivors picked by OSV Malviya 16, one by boat of Sagar Kiran oil rig & two each by #IndianNavy ALH & Seaking helicopters. Four critical survivors being evacuated to Juhu by Navy helicopters for management at @ONGC_ hospital, PRO Defence, Mumbai, tweeted.

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. (PTI)

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