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'We felt chopper lose altitude'
August 13, 2003 20:03 IST
Vijay Singh Mandloi, an employee of the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, is one of the two persons to survive Monday's chopper crash off the Mumbai coast.
There were 29 people in the MI 172 chopper and 22 bodies have been recovered till now.
Mandloi tells Vijay Singh about his experience:
As soon as the chopper took off, I felt something abnormal. There was a slight disturbance on the side and it was increasing.
We felt the chopper lose altitude. The flight attendant [Sumitra Dey] asked us to wear lifejackets. We were doing that when the chopper started going down very fast.
In the meantime, A J Mhatre [an employee of the rig] and I removed our belts. Mhatre had a great presence of mind and did not lose his cool. He opened the backdoor and threw a dinky into the sea. After that he told me to jump into the water. I did that and he followed me. We also asked the others to come out.
Mhatre opened the dinky and it took us around 20 minutes to get into it. By then the chopper had crashed.
We saw one injured pilot, a sardarji, [Captain Jaiswal]. He was not able to come into the dinky. We gave him a lifejacket and told him to stay close to us, as rescue efforts would soon begin. The rig was close.
Some people from the rig took a huge risk and came to help us. They took both of us -- Mhatre and I -- into a small boat and headed towards the rig. With the help of a lifejacket we also brought the sardarji near the rig.
People tried to rescue him, but he was so tired that he wasn't able to hold onto to anything. By then a navy chopper came and airlifted him [he could not survive].
After that we where shifted to a big boat for treatment. Thereafter every thing was fine for us.
There is no injury, not even a scratch on my body. But it was a big shock and I am still trying to come out of it.
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