26 still missing, Navy deploys diving teams to look for bodies
With no trace of 15 personnel from barge P305 and 11 from tugboat Varaprada six days after Cyclone Tauktae fury rendered the vessels adrift, the Navy on Saturday deployed specialised diving teams to boost the search and rescue operations (SAR) off Mumbai coast.
“To augment the ongoing SAR ops for the missing crew of Barge P305 and Tug Varaprada, specialised diving teams onboard INS Makar with side-scan sonar and INS Tarasa sailed out early morning today from Mumbai,” a Navy spokesperson tweeted. The death toll on barge P305 that sank in the Arabian Sea on Monday reached 60 on Friday with the recovery of 11 more bodies even as the Navy and the Coast Guard continued the search for the 15 missing personnel from the barge and 11 from Varaprada. When contacted, an official said updates on overnight SAR ops are awaited. Hopes of finding more survivors of the Cyclone Tauktae fury have receded, an official said. Of the 261 personnel who were on barge P305, 186 have been recovered so far. Of the 13 persons on Varaprada, two have been rescued. While all the 440 persons on barges Gal Constructor and Support Station 3 (SS-3) and drillship Sagar Bhushan were brought ashore to safety, Naval and Coast Guard vessels and aircraft scoured the waters off the Mumbai coast as the search and rescue operations entered the sixth day on Saturday. Mumbai police have announced they will conduct a probe as to why the ill-fated barge remained in the turbulent area despite warnings about cyclone Tauktae, an official said. The police have also registered accidental death reports in connection with the death of the personnel on the barge.
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