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Twenty-two workers confirmed dead after the sinking of barge P305; rescue operation still ongoing for more than 50 workers.

Image Credit: Twitter/@indiannavy

Twenty-two workers have been confirmed dead after their bodies have been recovered by the search and rescue team. The workers that used to work on Barge P305, ended up in the rough seas after cyclone Tauktae sank the barge on Monday evening. As many as 185 people have been rescued, but there are around 65 missing.

The P-305 barge was carrying out a contract for the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) before the accident. It was deployed by Afcons Infrastructure. When cyclone Tauktae struck the Arabian Sea, barge sank just 35 nautical miles from Mumbai.

The search and rescue team are working around the clock in an attempt to save as many workers as possible.

Search and rescue operations are still on and we haven’t lost hopes of bringing them ashore.

Unidentified official.

He also said that the chance to find more survivors will be difficult as hours pass by. Luckily, all personnel from the two other barges and an oil rig that were rendered adrift when cyclone Tauktae reached Gujarat coast, are safe. There were 137 personnel on board the Gal Constructor barge, 196 personnel on SS-3 barge and 101 personnel on oil rig Sagar Bhushan.

As of Wednesday morning, 186 personnel of barge P305 have been rescued. INS Teg, INS Betwa, INS Beas, P8I aircraft and Seaking helicopters are continuing with the search and rescue operations.

Navy Spokesman.

The two barges, Gal Constructor and SS-3 and the oil rig Sagar Bhushan have been taken in control while barge P-305 is still missing.

The survivors of the Gal Constructor barge ship recounted the horror when during cyclone Tauktae, their barge nearly hit an oil rig. Some thought their lives were over and called their families to say one last goodbye. One of the deck foreman of the Gal Constructor barge ship, Anand Menon said,

I have seen several cyclones while on ships but all of them passed in two to four hours. This was the first time that a cyclone was so powerful and lasted for several hours. We had lowered four anchors, each weighing over seven tonnes, but the cyclone was so strong that all of them got ripped within minutes and we started drifting away. We had eight anchors on the barge but there was not enough space to lower all anchors as there are pipes below the sea that could have got damaged.

Anand Menon, deck foreman of Gal Constructor.

Another worker like Leenas Alphons, a 50-year-old crane operator working on the barge said that he felt like he ‘stared at death’.

While drifting on Sunday night, our barge almost hit an oil rig. We were staring at death as the oil rig neared us. It was god’s grace that we did not hit it, and the barge drifted away when it was 25 metres away from the rig. The barge could have capsized after hitting the rig and we could have died. I have spent two decades of my life on ships and faced four cyclones, but I never experienced such a life-threatening experience. I called my children and told them to take care of my wife if I do not return home.

Leenas Alphons, crane operator at the Gal Constructor barge.

More details to follow.

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