NEW DELHI, Jan 13 — India’s coast guard said four bodies had been recovered today after search teams located the wreckage of a helicopter that went missing earlier in the day.
The aircraft, carrying five employees of India’s state-run oil exploration arm ONGC and two pilots, lost contact with air traffic control 15 minutes after taking off from the western city at around 10:30am (0500 GMT) today.
“Recovered fourth body,” the Indian Coast Guard said on Twitter, soon after posting that debris had been found.
The chopper was supposed to land at offshore oil rig Bombay High at 11:00am, the Press Trust of India reported citing unnamed sources.
It was 40 nautical miles off the western coast before it went off-radar, the coast guard said.
“@indiannavy and @IndiaCoastGuard are extending all possible assistance in the #SAR Search and Rescue of @ONGC_ helicopter and pax on board. Wish for their safety,” Nirmala Sitharaman, India’s defence minister, said on Twitter.
The navy and coast guard deployed ships, several boats and aircraft in search and rescue operations.
The helicopter had been leased to ONGC by the state-owned Pawan Hans helicopter firm, in which the oil producer holds 49 per cent stake.
In 2015, a Pawan Hans chopper crashed after taking off from Bombay High, killing two pilots.
ONGC accounts for about two-thirds of the country’s total natural gas production.
It made a significant discovery last year at Bombay High, India’s biggest oil field, of reserves of about 20 million tonnes. — AFP