Barge accident: Afcons to pay Rs 35-75 lakh to families of deceased personnel

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Mumbai, May 21 (PTI) Afcons Infrastructure, whose chartered barge had sunk in the Arabian Sea due to a cyclone this week leaving at least 51 people dead, on Friday said it will provide compensation ranging from Rs 35-75 lakh to the families of the deceased personnel.

The chartered barge P-305 sank in the Arabian Sea near the ONGC oil wells in Bombay High due to cyclone Tauktae on Monday. There were 261 people on board and 51 of them are dead while 24 of them are yet to be traced.

'We will compensate families of each of the employees/ personnel who lost their lives in the tragedy equivalent to the balance service period of up to 10 years salaries through a combination of ex-gratia payouts and insurance compensation. This would in absolute terms range from a minimum of Rs 35 lakh and a maximum of Rs 75 lakh per family,' an Afcons spokesperson told PTI.

The modalities of the payments are being worked out.

Earlier in the day, the Navy said it has traced and brought the bodies of 51 people who perished in the tragedy and is yet to trace 24 of them.

Of the 261 personnel who were on barge P-305, 186 have been rescued so far. Of the 13 persons on Varaprada, two have been rescued while the search for the remaining 11 is on.

'While we can never compensate the loss of a loved one, but in this time of grief, we hope we can relieve the financial loss faced by the family members,' the spokesperson said.

The ill-fated barge had 13 of its employees on board and so far 3 of them have been confirmed dead.

'It is our moral duty to support not only the families of the deceased persons on its direct rolls but also families of all deceased persons who were employed with our subcontractors,' the spokesperson said, adding that the calamity arising from the fury of cyclone Tauktae was unprecedented and it shared the anguish of the affected families.

Afcons would also set up a trust to support the educational needs of the children of the deceased through scholarships. Further, trauma and grief counselling is being organised to help the families affected by the disaster.

While all the 440 persons on barges Gal Constructor and Support Station 3 (SS-3) and drillship Sagar Bhushan were brought to safety, the Naval and Coast Guard vessels and aircraft scoured the waters off the Mumbai coast as the search and rescue operations entered the fifth day on Friday.

Mumbai police have announced they will conduct a probe as to why the ill-fated barge remained in the turbulent area despite warnings about the cyclone, an official said.

The police have also registered accidental death reports in connection with the death of the personnel on the barge. PTI BEN RAM