Death toll in barge sinking rises to 49; 6,961 in Arabian Sea stayed safe during cyclone

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New Delhi, May 20 (PTI) Death toll on the barge that sunk after being hit by severe cyclone Tauktae rose to 49 while 37 others still remain missing, government sources said.

As many as 6,961 persons stayed safe at 342 oil and gas installations dotting the western coast when the severe cyclone Tauktae rammed through, but equipment malfunction at five vessels put 714 people at risk, leaving at least 49 dead and 37 other missing.

Government sources said 7,675 persons were at 234 fixed and 99 floating oil and gas installations in the Arabian Sea before the cyclone made landfall on Monday night.

Out of 99 floating units, 94 remained safe at appropriate locations at sea or shore.

'Based on the weather warning, ONGC activated its emergency response system and issued instructions to all installations to take action as per the standard operating procedure,' a source said.

Complying with the same, appropriate actions including staying at the safe mode or returning to the safe locations at the anchoring points were taken by the respective installations.

'Out of 7,675 personnel, 6,961 stayed safe at respective locations,' the source said.

However, the remaining five vessels, carrying 714 personnel, faced adverse situations such as snapping of wireline and anchors giving away.

These included three barges working for private contractor Afcons at the ONGC site, one drillship Sagar Bhushan and an anchor handling boat.

One barge, P-305 had decided to stay nearby the platform where it was working but its anchors gave away and it started drifting and went on to hit one unmanned platform before capsizing, they said.

Of the 261 crew onboard, 186 were rescued while 49 bodies have been recovered. Search is on for the remaining 26, they said.

As many as 440 personnel on the other two barges and drillship were brought to shore safely.

Anchor handling board Varprada was carrying 13 persons, out of which two have been rescued while the search for the remaining 11 is on. PTI ANZ ANZ ABM ABM

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