The Indian Navy on Wednesday said that 22 bodies had been recovered and brought back to the Mumbai dockyard after a barge, identified as P305, sank in the Arabian Sea as cyclone Tauktae ravaged the western coast of India. Of the 273 people on board the vessel, at least 65 were missing as of Wednesday evening.
“Search and rescue operations are still on and we haven’t lost hopes of bringing them ashore,” a Navy official told PTI. But the chances of finding all the survivors was bleak with every passing hour.
The Indian Navy also rescued two more people from a tugboat, Varaprada, that was adrift in the Arabian Sea amid the cyclonic storm.
An Indian Navy spokesperson said that all on board two other barges and an oil rig were also safe.
A Navy warship, INS Kochi, reached Mumbai on Wednesday carrying the 22 bodies and 125 of the 186 survivors. “As of Wednesday morning, 186 personnel of barge P305 have been rescued,” a Navy spokesperson said. “INS Teg, INS Betwa, INS Beas, P8I aircraft and Sea King helicopters are continuing with the search and rescue operations.”
All the 137 onboard the barge GAL Constructor, which also went adrift in the Arabian Sea were rescued on Tuesday. Apart from this, 196 personnel on barge SS-3 and 101 personnel on board oil rig Sagar Bhushan were also safe, the Navy official said, according to PTI.
INS Talwar was also in the area to assist in the search operations, the spokesperson added.
On Monday evening, amid the cyclone Tauktae, accommodation barge P305 had sent out emergency signals to the Indian Navy for rescue. However, during rescue operations, the ship which had 273 members onboard sank in the Arabian Sea.
The Indian Navy has been conducting multiple search and rescue operations along the western coast. Three barges and an oil rig with a total of 707 people were adrift in the sea amid the cyclonic storm on Monday.
Deputy Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral Murlidhar Sadashiv Pawar said this was among the most challenging operations in the last four decades.