Pawan Hans crash: Chances of pilots' survival bleak

Mumbai: 24 hours after a Pawan Hans helicopter with two pilots on board crashed into the Arabian Sea off Mumbai coast, Defence sources said the chances of their survival was "bleak" even as Navy and Coast Guard continued their search and rescue operation.

Captain E Samuel and T K Guha, were the only people onboard the ill-fated aircraft when it crashed at Mumbai High offshore oilfield of the ONGC last evening minutes after lift off for night landing practice.

"The chances of survival of two pilots onboard the ill-fated Pawan Hans helicopter that crashed yesterday are bleak as nearly 24 hours have been passed and Navy and the CG are still searching for them," Defence sources said.

"It would be miraculous if the pilots survive, but there is minimal hope of their survival as they are yet to be traced", he said.

Meanwhile, defence officials have started examining the wreckage of the aircraft to look for clues to ascertain the reason behind the crash.

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

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.

"Destroyer 'INS Mumbai' with integral helicopter was also launched to join the search and rescue efforts.

ONGC hires Pawan Hans helicopters to ferry its officials from Mumbai to its offshore oilfield.

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