Navy rescues 60 people onboard barge adrift off Mumbai

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New Delhi, May 17 (PTI) The Indian Navy on Monday night evacuated 60 people out of 400 onboard two barges off the Mumbai coast in a challenging sea condition as Cyclone Tauktae roared up the western coast, officials said.

The Navy deployed three of its frontline warships to rescue the people onboard the two barges.

Navy officials said 60 people from one of the two barges were rescued around 11 pm.

Indian Navy spokesperson Commander Vivek Madhwal said search and rescue operations would continue through the night for the remaining people.

The ships deployed to extend assistance to the two barges are INS Kolkata, INS Kochi and INS Talwar, Navy officials said.

'On receipt of a request for assistance for a barge 'P305' adrift off Heera oil fields in Bombay high area with 273 personnel onboard, INS Kochi was swiftly sailed with a despatch for search and rescue assistance,' the spokesperson said.

He said INS Talwar had also been deployed for the search and rescue operation.

'In response to another SOS received from barge 'GAL Constructor' with 137 people onboard about 8 nautical miles from Mumbai, INS Kolkata has been sailed with despatch to render assistance,' Commander Madhwal said.

He said several other ships and aircraft had also been readied for HARD (humanitarian assistance and disaster relief) operations in the wake of Cyclone Tauktae.

Earlier in the day, a naval helicopter rescued four crew members of an Indian vessel named the crew of 'Coromondel Supporter IX' that was adrift in the Arabian sea, according to the spokesperson.

He said rough seas due to Cyclone Tauktae resulted in flooding of the vessel's machinery compartments, rendering it without propulsion and power supply.

'In a swift response to SOS by an Indian vessel adrift in the Arabian Sea, a naval helicopter was dispatched for rescuing the stranded crew of Indian flagged Tug 'Coromondel Supporter IX', which was adrift North West of Mangalore, Karnataka,' he said.

He said the helicopter was sent after attempts to rescue the crew by a boat failed.

About the Navy's response to deal with the fallout of the cyclone, the Navy spokesperson said 11 diving teams had been kept on standby for deployment in case of any request from state authorities.

He said 12 flood rescue teams and medical teams had also been kept ready for immediate response and deployment.

'Repair and rescue teams have been formed to undertake urgent infrastructural repairs post-cyclone if required,' he said.

'Various ships along the Western seaboard are standby with aid and relief material for immediate assistance to affected areas as required and to provide assistance to fishing boats/ small boats stranded due to rough weather,' he said.

Commander Madhwal said the Navy's maritime reconnaissance aircraft on surveillance were continuously broadcasting cyclone warnings to the fisherfolk. PTI MPB HMB

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