Mumbai: In a gruesome tragedy, at least 22 persons on board the drifting Barge Papaa-305 met a watery end in the stormy Arabian Sea in the aftermath of the Cyclone Tauktae, officials said here Wednesday. Their bodies have been brought to Mumbai by Indian Navy ships which had gone on rescue missions for the past 48 hours.
The Western Naval Command confirmed the deaths of the 22 persons even as efforts are underway to trace another 50-odd missing in the still choppy seas near the Bombay High Fields, around 175 kms off Mumbai.
INS Kochi has brought the bodies to the Mumbai harbour, along with many of the others rescued. As Cyclone Tauktae ravaged the Maharashtra coastal areas and whirled towards Gujarat, the ill-fated barge in the offshore development area of Bombay High Field had sunk late Monday night. A total of 261 persons were on board Pappa-305, an accommodation barge.
The Indian Navy has so far saved 188 persons from that Barge, besides many more from other stranded or drifting vessels in one of the biggest search and rescue operations mounted under extreme weather conditions. Rescue operations are still continuing in the Arabian Sea as the weather conditions improved since this morning.