INDIA. Mumbai: Nearly 81people were reported missing, when a barge was sunk, about 35 nautical miles from Mumbai in the Mumbai Offshore Development Area, after a cyclone Tauktae ripped through it, even as the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard continued their search and rescue operations (SAR) on Tuesday.
The Barge P-305 was deployed at the Heera platform, the largest of the Oil and Natural Gas Commission(OMGC)’s rigs in Bombay High, the largest oil and gas assets of the national energy major. The barge was “out of control” for three days and help was sought from the Coast Guard. It sank on Monday evening in an extremely severe cyclonic storm with winds of 80-90 knots, wave heights of 6-8 meters, continuous rains, heavy clouding and almost zero visibility. It wasan accommodation barge and had no engine to power it. It hit one of the oil rigs in the vicinity and resultantly the water gushed into it.
There was 261 crew onboard the barge. The Indian Naval Ships “Beas”, “Betwa” and “Teg” which joined “INS Kochi” and “INS Kolkata” for undertaking SAR operations, rescued 180 crew members on Tuesday. The SAR has been augmented with P8I and naval helicopters, who continue to undertake an aerial search in the area, an Indian Navy spokesman Commander Mehul Karnik said. 81 crew members are still to be traced out. The Barge P-305 was deployed by Afcons Infrastructure Limited, for a contract the company had got from ONGC.
In another operation, an Indian Navy’s Seaking helicopter rescued 35 crew members of the ONGC’s barge –“GAL Constructor” which ran aground after it lost power, near Satpati, Palghar, north of Mumbai. The operations to rescue other members have continued. The barge has around 137 crew members on board.
Besides, the Offshore Supply Vessels(OSV’s)-“Samudra Sevak” and “SV Cheel” are connected to manoeuvre “Sagar Bhushan”, ONGC’s drilling ship, with 101 people on board. The vessel has been drifted some 30 nautical miles North West of Mumbai since May 17. The situation at present appears to be stable.
SAR efforts are also in progress off the coast of Gujarat for three vessels namely “Support Station III”, “Great Ship Aditi” and Drill Ship “Sagar Bhushan”, which are 15-20 nautical miles southeast off Gujarat coast (Pipavav).
INS Talwar has reached the area and taken over the duties of ‘On-Scene Coordinator’ for coordination of the SAR effort. The Western Naval Command, in coordination with ONGC and DG shipping, has diverted five tugs to render assistance. “Great Ship Aditi” and “Support Station III” have been able to drop anchor, the IN spokesman added.
In another development, Maharashtra Minister for Fisheries and Port Development Aslam Shaikh Tuesday visited different fishermen’s colonies including Versova, Khar danda (northwest Mumbai), and Madh (north Mumbai), and assessed the loss suffered by fishermen due to the cyclone. He was accompanied by MLA Bhai Jadtap, Fisheries Commissioner Atul Patne, and Joint Commissioner Rajendra Jadhav.
In a similar visit, Shiv Sena leaders-Sudhakar Surve and Anil Bhopi and Corporator Sangita Sutar visited the fishermen’s colony at Madh. Maharashtra During the visit Kiran Koli, General Secretary of the Maharashtra Macchimar Kruti Samiti, and other leaders pointed out that although the boats were anchored due to gale winds over 25 boats were damaged, and as such, the government should give compensation to those who suffered the loss. The leaders assured the fishing community that the matter would be taken up with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and the issue of compensation will be resolved after carrying out panchnamas.
Modi to visit Gujarat
Meanwhile Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be visiting Gujarat and Diu on Wednesday to personally review the situation and damage due to Cyclone Tauktae. He will also conduct an aerial survey of cyclone-affected areas including Bhavnagar, Una, Diu, Jafarabad, and Mahuva. He will also hold a review meeting in Ahmedabad, official sources said.
The cyclone made landfall in Gujarat on Monday, packing winds with speeds of 155-165 kilometers per hour, gusting to 190 km/hour. The cyclone storm weakened into a deep depression and lay centres over Saurashtra, about 60 km north-northeast of Ahmedabad on Tuesday night.
At least seven people were killed as Cyclone battered parts of the state and left behind a trail of destruction along the coast, uprooting electric poles and trees, and damaging several houses and roads, before weakening, officials said on Tuesday. Over 16,000 houses were damaged, and more than 40,000 trees and over 1,000 poles uprooted in the storm. The Gujarat government had shifted over a lakh people living in coastal areas to safer places after the India Meteorological Department issued warnings of tidal waves and flooding following the cyclone.