Indian Navy, Coast Guard rescue 314 from barges in Arabian Sea (Ld)

Mumbai, May 18  In one of the biggest search and rescue operations in the Arabian Sea, the Indian Navy (IN) and Indian Coast Guard (ICG) rescued 314 people stranded and struggling for survival on two barges that were engulfed by Cyclone Tauktae, officials said here on Tuesday.

All the 137 people marooned on the Barge GAL Constructor have been successfully rescued by the IN and ICG teams after daring helicopter and ship operations braving extreme weather conditions, battling tall waves, heavy rains and strong winds of over 100 km/hr, near the Colaba Point.

Similarly, another 177 persons out of 273 on board Barge Papaa-305 were picked up with the help of INS Kochi, INS Kolkata, OSV Ahilya, OSV Ocean Energy and Sea King helicopters, even as the vessel sank in the sea this morning.

Efforts are on to rescue the other people still trapped in the waters as the intensity of the Cyclone Tauktae seemed to be on the wane after it made a landfall around midnight.

The Oil & Natural Gas Corporation Ltd (ONGC) said early today that one of its oil exploration drilling rigs and 3 construction barges of Afcons Infrastructure Ltd. (AIL) were involved in the unfortunate incidents during the Cyclone Tauktae onslaught.

The vessels are ONGC Drill Ship ‘Sagar Bhushan’ and AIL’s Barge Gal Constructor which ran aground near Colaba Point, Barge Papaa-305 which has sunk and Barge Support Station-3, which is drifting northwest in the sea with two ONGC offshore vessels sent to provide assistance.

According to IN and ICG, these incidents involved a total of 707 persons of which 314 have been rescued and further operations are continuing since the past 24 hours.

Though the ONGC could not provide the total number of personnel, staff in the Bombay High Fields, around 175 kms in the high seas, the company said that all its offshore installations and oil platforms were safe.


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