177 rescued, 96 missing after barge sinks off Mumbai

A major search and rescue operation is underway in the Arabian Sea after Barge P305, which had been struck by cyclone Tauktae with winds in excess of 165 kmh, was officially declared sunk on Tuesday morning.

The Indian Navy has so far rescued 177 people from the barge that went adrift near Mumbai on Monday with 273 personnel onboard shortly before Cyclone Tauktae made landfall on the Gujarat coast, a spokesperson said Tuesday.

“A total of 177 persons from Barge P305 have been rescued in extremely challenging sea conditions,” he said in the latest update.

Navy ships were deployed on Monday after receipt of a request for assistance for Barge P305 adrift off Heera oil fields around 70 km southwest of Mumbai.

The P305 was deployed by Afcons Infrastructure to carry out a contract for the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC).

The search and rescue operations of the Barge P305 continued through the night by INS Kochi and INS Kolkata joined by two offshore support vessels.

“On receipt of a request for assistance for a barge P305 adrift off Heera oil fields in Bombay High area with 273 personnel onboard, INS Kochi was swiftly sailed with a despatch for search and rescue assistance,” the spokesperson said.

The second search and rescue effort is underway from a barge GAL Constructor with 137 people onboard which had gone adrift off Colaba Point due to engine trouble. The barge run aground about 48 nautical miles north of Colaba Point. An emergency towing vessel, two support vessels and Coast Guard ships are in vicinity for rendering assistance and evacuation of crew, the spokesperson stated.

The navy had deployed three of its warships after receiving messages to rescue 410 people onboard two barges off the Mumbai coast on Monday.

INS Kochi and INS Kolkata along with MV Offshore Energy and MV Ahalya continue efforts in extremely challenging circumstances, an official said.

Apart from this, rescue operations are taking place onboard two separate barges and the Sagar Bhushan drillship, which are adrift at separate locations in the Arabian Sea.

INS Talwar is on its way to render assistance to Sagar Bhushan with 101 personnel onboard and an accommodation barge SS-3 with 196 personnel onboard.

Adis Ajdin

Adis is an experienced news reporter with a background in finance, media and education. He has written across the spectrum of offshore energy and ocean industries for many years and is a member of International Federation of Journalists. Previously he had written for Navingo media group titles including Offshore Energy, Subsea World News and Marine Energy.
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