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Cyclone Tauktae: Barge P305 captain, others booked for culpable homicide

49 bodies have been recovered so far and 26 people are still missing five days after the cyclone. The Indian Navy is continuing to lead search and rescue efforts.

Edited by: India TV News Desk Mumbai Updated on: May 21, 2021 10:10 IST
barge p305
Image Source : PTI

Indian Navy carries out the rescue and search operations for the missing crew members of the barge P305, off the Mumbai coast. 

An FIR has been filed by the Mumbai Police against Barge P305 captain Rakesh Ballav and others that was carrying 261 people when it went adrift off Mumbai coast and sank as Cyclone Tauktae hit the country's west coast. According to news agency ANI, an offense has been registered under 304(2), 338, 34 IPC at Yellowgate Police Station in Mumbai.

The case was filed on the complaint of barge's chief engineer Rehman Sheikh. Rehman, who was rescued from the wreckage, filed a complaint that the captain did not take the cyclone warning seriously, leading to the death of the crew members. He also questioned the vessel's seaworthiness. He said in a video shot by his brother Aalam that Balwinder Singh, the captain, insisted that wind speeds will not be very high and the cyclonic storm will last only for an hour.

"The captain said the wind will not go over 40 knots (about 75 kmph). It will start at 11 and end at 12. The entire incident happened because of the captain and client," the 48-year-old Rahman Shaikh said in the video, shared by Aalam.

The death toll on barge P305 that sank in the Arabian Sea four days ago rose to 49 on Thursday with the recovery of more bodies even as the Navy and the Coast Guard continued the search for the 26 personnel missing from the barge and 11 from anchor boat Varaprada. Of the 261 personnel who were on barge P305 that sank on Monday, 186 have been recovered so far. 

Three barges and an anchor handling boat deployed by private contractor Afcons for a project it was doing for Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), and a drillship of a state-owned firm lost anchors and drifted away. While 440 persons on two barges and the drillship were brought to safety, barge P-305 carrying 261 personnel sank.

Naval and Coast Guard vessels and aircraft scoured the waters off the west coast on Thursday to look for the missing. The Indian Navy has deployed six vessels -- INS Kochi, INS Kolkata, INS Talwar, INS Beas, INS Betwa and INS Teg, while Coast Guard deployed ICGS Samarth, ICGS Shoor and other offshore patrol vessels for the search operations. ONGC has also deployed 20 of its vessels to assist the rescue operations, which has also been joined by a vessel of Afcons.

READ MORE: 'Captain of barge P-305 chose not to move vessel away from cyclone path'

READ MORE: Death toll in barge sinking rises to 49; 6,961 in Arabian Sea stayed safe during cyclone

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