Bodies of 26 personnel on board Barge Papaa (P-305) that sunk amid the fury unleashed by cyclone Tauktae were recovered from the Arabian Sea by Indian Navy warships engaged in search and rescue operations through Tuesday and Wednesday. The bodies were found floating 50-60 nautical miles ( 90+km) off the Mumbai coast. 49 crew members are still missing, while 186 were rescued.
A total of 273 personnel were earlier said to have been on board, but the ONGC, which had deployed the barge, revised the count to 261 on Wednesday. The search operations for the missing 49 will continue, officials said.
Five Navy ships—INS Kochi, Kolkata, Beas, Betwa and Teg—P8I maritime surveillance aircraft, and Chetak and Sea King helicopters have been engaged in the search at sea which began on Monday, with 1,500-plus personnel pressed into service. The Navy said they were still hopeful of finding survivors.
The operation began after four vessels—two barges off the city’s coast and a barge and drill vessel off Gujarat’s Pipavav port—went adrift. A total of 638 people had been rescued by Tuesday evening.
Navy officials said INS Kochi reached Mumbai harbour on Wednesday with four bodies and 125 survivors before sailing back to join the rescue effort. INS Kolkata was to enter Mumbai harbour late Wednesday night to disembark the other survivors and bring back bodies of other