Mumbai, Dec 11 (IANS) A private helicopter on a joyride crashed and erupted into a fireball, killing the pilot and injuring three others, at an isolated spot in Mumbai suburb Goregaon on Sunday.
The helicopter, a Robinson R44 belonging to Aman Aviation Pvt Ltd, was on a sight-seeing flight over Mumbai when it suddenly crashed inside the forested Aarey Milk Colony and caught fire around 12.15 p.m., said the BMC Disaster Control.
The cause of the crash, which hit an area called Jambli Maidan in Filter Pada near the Royal Palms Club, is not known, and an enquiry has bene launched into the incident.
According to witnesses, hundreds of people from nearby tribal hamlets inside the Aarey Milk Colony and some other settlements rushed to help the victims even as fire tenders rushed to the spot.
People and police personnel extricated the victims from the burning chopper and rushed them to the Seven Hills Hospital in Andheri East.
The 53-year old pilot Prafulkumar Mishra who suffered extensive injuries and severe burns was declared dead, and the co-pilot and two passengers including a woman are reported to be in critical condition, Deputy Commissioner of Police Kirankumar Chavan told media persons.
The others have been identified as Ritesh Modi, 35, wife Brinda Ritesh Modi, 34, who were on an aerial joyride of Mumbai, and a co-pilot Sanjeev Shankar, 25.
While Ritesh is being treated for multiple head and chest injuries, Brinda sustained around 35 burns, and Shankar suffered hand fractures, but is stable.
There was confusion over the timing of the crash with eyewitnesses saying it took place around 11.45 am but the fire brigade got a call only around 12.15 pm.
The chopper was originally owned by Pawan Hans Ltd, but later sold to Aman Aviation Pvt Ltd, which is one of the small airline companies offering aerial tours of the Mumbai and surroundings.
Officials said according to preliminary information, a fire was reportedly noticed when the chopper was flying, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing in a flat open area at Filter Pada inside Aarey Milk Colony.
Locals say a major tragedy was averted as within a short radii of the crash, there are sprawling residential housing complexes, the famous Film City, the elite Royal Palms Club, stables with buffaloes, gardens and picnic spots which are frequented by thousands on weekends and holidays.