As many as 22 out of the 75 people missing from the barge ‘P-305’, which sank in the Arabian Sea after getting caught in Cyclone Tauktae are confirmed dead, sources said. "Bodies of 22 persons have been fished out and they are being brought to shore," a source said, while adding that 53 persons remain missing. The barge had 261 persons on board when it got caught in Cyclone Tauktae off the Mumbai coast earlier this week. Of these, 186 persons were rescued.
Barge P-305, as well as two other barges that were hit by the cyclone, were deployed by Afcons for a contract it had got from the state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC). Indian Navy and Coast Guard ships and choppers, as well as vessels from ONGC, are searching for survivors, the sources said. The cyclone sank P-305, which had living quarters for employees working offshore, while two other construction barges lost anchors and drifted away. About 600 employees on the three barges belonged to Afcons.
Besides the barges, one drilling rig of ONGC 'Sagar Bhushan' with 101 people on board (37 ONGC employees and 64 contractual workers), too drifted away from its location. Sources said all the 137 persons onboard barge 'Gal Constructor', which runs aground about 48 nautical miles north of Mumbai's Colaba Point, have been rescued. Additionally, 201 persons onboard barge 'Support Station-3', as well as ONGC's drillship 'Sagar Bhushan', have been brought to safety.
Cyclone Tauktae made landfall on Monday night on the Gujarat coast, which is dotted with oil and gas installations. While the offshore has fields producing oil and gas, the coast houses two big refineries and some of the busiest ports. The cyclone, whose intensity is similar to the one that hit Gujarat in 1998, has weakened thereafter.