A Pawan Hans helicopter with two pilots on board crashed into the Arabian Sea minutes after take off from an ONGC platform this evening, Defence Sources said.
Navy and Coast Guard, which have launched a search and rescue operation to locate the missing pilots and wreckage, have sighted a door of the aircraft.
Two Immediate Support Vessels of the Navy have reached the area, about 82 nautical miles off south Mumbai coast, sources said. ONGC vessels have also been pressed into service.
The 14-seater VTPWF Dauphin aircraft of 2001-make took off from the ONGC installation at 7:12 PM and contact with it was lost eight minutes later, a top official of the state-run Pawan Hans said.
The pilots have been identified as Captain E Samuel and T K Guha.
Since the chopper was not on crew duty, there were no passengers on board, ONGC Director (offshore) T K Sengupta told PTI. ONGC hires Pawan Hans helicopters to ferry its officials from Mumbai to its offshore oilfield.
A Navy release said the crash occurred during night landing practice.
"Destroyer 'INS Mumbai' with integral helicopter will reach the area after midnight to join the search and rescue efforts," it said.
In order to augment the search, a night capable helicopter Seaking C is being launched, while a second helicopter will be placed on standby, a defence spokesman said.
Meanwhile, the Indian Coast Guard said in a statement late tonight that its ships found debris of the helicopter, but hadn't located survivors yet.
After its Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, Mumbai received information about the crash from a Coast Guard Dornier on surveillance sortie, three ships, including one carrying helicopter from Porbandar, were pressed into service for rescue operation.
"During the search, the vessels picked up debris of the helicopter. As of 2230 hrs, nil survivors were located," the Coast Guard statement said.
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