MUMBAI, India - After an Indian helicopter went missing early on Saturday, rescuers located the wreckage of the chopper and said that four bodies had been recovered.
The Indian Navy said in a statement issued on Twitter that the aircraft was carrying five employees of India's state-run oil exploration arm ONGC and two pilots.
It added that the chopper lost contact with air traffic control 15 minutes after taking off from the western city at around 10:30 am in the morning.
The country navy confirmed on Twitter, "Four bodies recovered till now,” adding that a search for the remaining three was underway.
It said, “Crash position indicator of ill-fated helicopter recovered."
The navy also posted photos of boat crews in helmets and life jackets scouring the waters where the debris was eventually found.
According to the Indian Coast Guard, two of the four victims had been identified by the cards in their wallets, including an ONGC work ID and a driver's license.
Officials said that that the chopper was supposed to land at offshore oil rig Bombay High at 11:00 am and coast guard officials said that it was 40 nautical miles off the western coast before it went off-radar.
Nirmala Sitharaman, India's defence minister, said in a statement on Twitter, "@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.”
Soon after the chopper was reported missing, navy and coast guard dispatched ships, several boats and aircraft to lead the rescue operations.
Later in the day, India’s Civil Aviation Minister Jayant Sinha expressed his anguish over the crash and said Indian air accident investigators would launch an inquiry into the incident.
ONGC too issued a statement saying, "the reason behind the unfortunate incident is yet to be ascertained.”
Officials added that the helicopter had been leased to ONGC by the state-owned Pawan Hans helicopter firm.
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