Pawan Hans crash: 2 pilots on board still missing

Mumbai, November 5:A day after a Pawan Hans helicopter crashed into the Arabian Sea off Mumbai Coast, Navy and Coast Guard have achieved little success in locating the two missing pilots as poor visibility hampered their search and rescue operations though some debris has been recovered.

"We are yet to locate two pilots on board the ill-fated copter, but we have recovered its door and some debris," a defence spokesperson said today.

The search and rescue operation has been very challenging due to poor visibility on account of morning haze. The night-capable Seaking 42C chopper which was launched after the crash returned this morning without any result, the spokesperson added.

The pilots have been identified as Captain E Samuel and T K Guha.

The 14-seater VTPWF Dauphin aircraft of 2001-make took off from the ONGC installation at 7:12 PM yesterday and contact with it was lost eight minutes later.

The crash occurred during night landing practice.Navy and Coast Guard, which launched a search and rescue operation to locate the missing pilots and wreckage, had sighted a door of the aircraft last night.

Two Immediate Support Vessels of the Navy and ONGC vessels were pressed into service to scour the crash area, about 82 nautical miles off south Mumbai Coast.

Since the chopper was not on crew duty, there were no passengers on-board. ONGC hires Pawan Hans helicopters to ferry its officials from Mumbai to its offshore oilfield.

"Destroyer 'INS Mumbai' with integral helicopter was also launched to join the search and rescue efforts.The Coast Guard (CG) in a statement last night had said that its ships found debris of the helicopter, but hadn't located survivors or bodies then.

After receiving 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, it had said.

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