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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 August, 2003, 12:26 GMT 13:26 UK
India helicopter bodies found

Relatives and officials of India's Oil and Natural Gas Corporation stand with a victim of the crash
Oil company employees have threatened to strike

Rescuers have recovered 22 bodies from the wreckage of an Indian oil industry helicopter which crashed into the sea near Bombay (Mumbai) on Monday.

The Russian-made Mi-172 helicopter was carrying 29 employees of India's largest oil company - the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) - from an offshore rig to the Bombay coast when it crashed.

Three bodies were recovered on Tuesday, two people were rescued and two more remain unaccounted for.

The death toll now stands at 25.

The rear door of the chopper had to be broken open to take out the bodies trapped inside, an ONGC spokeswoman said.

"The search will continue for the remaining two people. We have not called off the search," said the spokeswoman, Narayani Mahil.

Thousands of ONGC workers went on strike on Wednesday, accusing the company of neglecting safety issues.

Managers said production had not been affected.

The cause of the crash is unclear.


The two survivors of the accident said they were able to escape because their seatbelts were not completely fastened.

VS Mandloi, one of the survivors, told the AFP news agency: "My senior colleague Mhatre - a competent swimmer - pulled me out and we managed to push through the rear hatch".

"As the water came in, we tried to assist other people to free themselves from their seatbelts but could not do so."

The helicopter crashed three minutes after taking off at 1215 (0645 GMT) from the Sagar Kiran rig in the Neelam oil field, about 100 kilometres (62.5 miles) from the Bombay coast.

"It was a very short flight of about 35 km from the oil rig to the helicopter base on shore for a crew change," ONGC spokeswoman Narayani Mahal said.

The helicopter had been chartered by ONGC, the company said.

The accident took place in Bombay High, India's largest oil field, which produces about half of the country's crude output.

India helicopter bodies fournd
13 Aug 03  |  South Asia
Bombay helicopter crash kills two
11 Aug 03  |  South Asia
Country Profile: India
08 Jul 03  |  Country profiles

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