Officials looking for the missing people on board the P305 barge which had sunk in the cyclone Tauktae have found 26 bodies while the search is on for 61 more.
The number of people who have been missing since the cyclone’s landfall is around 50 from the P305 barge and 11 or more from 2 other tugboats.
ONGC offshore vessels and defence ships had recovered 26 bodies yesterday but there are numerous who are still missing. As many as 61 are missing and the search operation is on to recover them.
The officer in charge of supervising the operations, Indian Navy Commodore Ajay Jha, has revealed that the Navy would hand over the bodies to the Mumbai port police as soon as formalities are done.
The bodies were brought ashore yesterday morning. He has also informed that the search operation will continue for 3 more days to recover the missing.
Meanwhile, the Petroleum & Natural Gas Ministry has ordered a high-level probe into the matter so that the lapses and gaps in the system could be identified and addressed. The whole sequence of events would have to be probed to determine if meteorological warning and statutory authorities instructions have been followed or disregarded. It will also include checking the SOP of securing vessels and disaster management protocols that need to be followed in these situations.
The Ministry issued a statement explained how the incidents of several ONGC vessels being stranded and adrift in the cyclone has caused a massive loss of lives.
Coast Guard however has made it clear that they had informed the vessels about the weather through 2 weather advisories sent on 11th and 13th May respectively. They had instructed the vessels to return to shore.
INS Kolkata had rescued 2 crew members of the Varaprada tugboat who were floating on a life raft at 2 pm on Monday. The rescued men had informed the officials that the vessel had sunk with 13 men on board who had jumped to sea to save themselves. They had no clue where the rest were.
Meanwhile, a survivor from the P305 barge, Dharmendra Singh has revealed that the barge had collided with an unmanned rig which resulted in a big hole on the vessel.
Alam Shaikh, owner of the Alamgir Ship Management and Engineering Services Private Limited had his brother Rahman Shaikh (48) working on P305 when it sank. He has accused that the vessel owner, the Ocean Diving firm, had left the P305 back in the water, while their other vessel Ocean 303 came back to the shore before the cyclone hit.
He added that he got informed about P305 through one of his contacts who heard it on the radio and since then the family have been looking for his brother.
He has further alleged that the working conditions on the 25-year-old barge were bad and he had witnessed it first hand when he managed the crew for 2 years. He alleged that the owners of the vessel and crew management company associated with it have not responded yet.
The barge had been bought from Malaysia and is currently managed by Udya Shipping. So far, the police have received 4 bodies from and the rest are in process of being handed over, revealed the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Ports) Ganesh Shinde.
#CycloneTauktae #Update#INSKochi entering Mumbai harbour today morning alongwith rescued personnel from Barge P305.
INS Teg, INS Betwa, INS Beas P8I aircraft & Seaking Helos continuing with Search & Rescue Ops.@indiannavy @SpokespersonMoD @DDNewslive @PIB_India @airnewsalerts pic.twitter.com/jkBY5DnJeI
— PRO Defence Mumbai (@DefPROMumbai) May 19, 2021
Afcons, the construction barge owners have said that they are prioritising locating and rescuing the missing people as fast as possible. They have assured of all possible support and assistance to the families.
Varaprada Tug owner Rajesh Shahi has said that they couldn’t determine whether their vessel has sunk or it’s missing. It was assisting the Gal Constructor barge till 2 pm on Monday when they could establish contact for the last time. The owner has provided the list of all the 11 missing people to the police, navy and coast guard.
The government has a set up a probe panel which has the DG Shipping, Amitabh Kumar, Director General of Hydrocarbons, S C L Das,
Ministry of Defence, Joint Secretary, Nazli Jafri Shayin in it. The panel will be submitting a report by a month and more members can be added if needed.
In one of most challenging SAR Ops in aftermath of #CycloneTauktae 325 survivors have been rescued & 37 #BNV recovered off Mumbai & Gujarat Coasts. Vigorous SAR efforts continue for missing crew of Barge P305 which sank off Mumbai with 05 IN ships, aircraft & helos deployed (1/n) https://t.co/Qu5JumRlKS pic.twitter.com/63Lw4nhwVm
— SpokespersonNavy (@indiannavy) May 20, 2021