The Indian Navy has rescued 60 people on board a barge that went adrift in the Arabia Sea near Mumbai hours before a very severe cyclonic storm with winds gusting up to 185 km per hour made landfall on the Gujarat coast, an official said on Tuesday.
The Navy had deployed three of its frontline warships after receiving messages to rescue 410 people on board two barges off the Mumbai coast on Monday.
The ships deployed to extend assistance to the two barges were INS Kolkata, INS Kochi and INS Talwar. "A total of 60 persons from Barge P305 were rescued till 11 pm on Monday, 42 by INS Kochi and 18 by offshore support vessel Energy Star in extremely challenging sea conditions," a Navy spokesperson said.
The Search and Rescue (SAR) operations continued through the night for the remaining crew, he said. "In a separate effort INS Kolkata rescued two
survivors from the life raft of vessel Vara Prabha, and joined INS Kochi for the SAR of Barge P305 crew," he said.
Gal Constructor, another barge with 137 persons onboard has been adrift off the Colaba Point, eight nautical miles from Mumbai coast due to engine trouble, he said.
"This vessel was approached by the Emergency Towing Vessel 'Water Lily' which arrived in its vicinity for rendering assistance. The barge continues to drift N'ly because of extreme sea condition," he said.
These ongoing rescue efforts will be augmented by naval aircraft and helicopters, weather permitting, at first light on Tuesday and the SAR efforts will continue through the day, the spokesperson said. "On receipt of a request for assistance for 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 Navy officer said.
The oil fields are around 70 km southwest of Mumbai. The Navy spokesperson said the rescue operations on Barge 305 were undertaken amid extreme weather conditions.