Indian floating barge sinking death toll stands at 66
The Indian Navy is still looking for nine missing crew members from the P305 accommodation barge, which collapsed in Cyclone Tauktae last week with 261 people on board.
186 crew members were rescued after the sinking and the remains of 66 people were found. The victims are not all recognizable, Mumbai police sources told LiveMint, and DNA samples from family members were used to aid in identification. So far, around 40 bodies have been returned to their loved ones.
Thanks to a lateral sonar search conducted by the Indian Navy’s INS Makar, the wreckage of the P305 was located on the seabed. A dive team will search the ship for more victims.
To increase the #SAR operations for the missing crew of Barge P305 and tug Varapradha, specialized diving teams on board #INSMakar with side scan sonar and #INSTarasa sailed early in the morning today from #Mumbai.@DefenceMinIndia @indiannavy @mygovindia pic.twitter.com/GNoS1dyHIe
– PRO Defense Mumbai (@DefPROMumbai) May 22, 2021
Following harsh criticism of the ship’s operator from the Indian Coast Guard, Mumbai Police will investigate why the P305 has remained in danger with hundreds on board. The ICG warned oil and gas operators in the upper Mumbai region of the threat of the May 11 storm and again on May 13, and a detailed warning of the intensifying cyclone was available on the morning of May 16 – well before the sinking.
Rahman Shaikh, the chief engineer of the P305, told the Indian Express that the barge’s captain knew about the cyclone long before it arrived. However, the captain believed the intensity of the storm would be much lower – only 25 mph, not the wind speeds over 110 mph recorded on the day of the accident.
Meanwhile, in the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard are now preparing for the impact of Cyclone Yaas. The storm is expected to form near the center of the bay on Monday, and will likely move north, making landfall in Odisha or West Bengal as a “very severe” cyclonic storm. More than a dozen cutters have been sent out to sea to warn fishermen and merchant ships of approaching danger, according to the ICG.
#Pre-preventive measures for CycloneYaas likely to form in the Bay of Bengal. @IndiaCoastGuard sent to #AndamanNicobar issued a weather warning to sailors and fishermen urging them to return ashore or take shelter in the nearest port @DefenceMinIndia @shipmin_india pic.twitter.com/dOFLzHOeaV
– Indian Coast Guard (@IndiaCoastGuard) May 21, 2021