The Coast Guard has traced the Aircraft Voice Data Recorder (VDR) of the Pawan Hans helicopter which crashed off the Mumbai coast on Saturday, while the recovery of the remaining debris is in progress.

“Search for the missing ONGC crew continues till recovery. Aircraft Voice Data Recorder (VDR) has been recovered and recovery of balance debris is in progress,” a Coast Guard spokesperson said Sunday.

Simultaneously, the Navy has widened its search operations for the two missing crew members of the chopper.
Five bodies were recovered on Saturday, the Coast Guard and the Navy said in their statements earlier.

Earlier, Indian Navy has launched large scale rescue operations to search for the missing Pawan Hans helicopter.
Four Indian Naval Ships (T11, T45, Tarasa and Teg), one Dornier aircraft and one helicopter have been deployed towards the area.

The helicopter took off from Juhu at 10 am and was enroute to Oil Rig ‘NQO’ in Mumbai High North, 92 miles North West of Mumbai.

Communication with the helicopter was lost at 10:36 am, while it was 37 nautical miles from Mumbai. The helicopter had five passengers in addition to two pilots.

The search efforts are being augmented by one P8I Long Range aircraft. In addition, CG ships and aircraft have also been deployed for SAR.

Additional ships and aircraft are being kept ready at Mumbai for deployment as and when required.

ONGC, Coast  Guard and Navy pressed helicopters and speed boats as soon as the information of the chopper going missing was received at the Juhu helibase.

ONGC has key oil and gas fields off the Mumbai coast and Pawan Hans helicopters routinely ferry company employees and officers to the oil installations that are situated as far as 160 kilometres from the coastline.

The helicopter crash is not the first accident in ONGC’s history. In August 2003, an Mi-172 helicopter crashed off the Mumbai coast killing 27 people and pilot on-board.

(With agency inputs)