Some 188 persons have been rescued and search is on for the remaining 73 onboard accommodation barge Papaa 305, contracted by state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, that sunk off the Mumbai coast in the intervening hours of Monday and Tuesday.

All 137 personnel on board another barge, GAL Constructor, were rescued on Tuesday after it ran aground off Mumbai’s Colaba coast, according to latest information from the Indian Navy and ONGC sources.

Another barge Support Station-3 with 220 people on board, which was drifting north-west have been hooked to a tug boat. All onboard are reported to be safe. All the three barges belong to Shapoorji Pallonji group company Afcon and were had onboard people hired by the company.

Drillship Sagar Bhushan, which is owned by ONGC, too has been secured. The vessel had 101 persons on board, including 38 ONGC employees.

Indian Navy ships, Coast Guard vessels and other ships from ONGC and Afcon rescued the marooned people in a night-long operation through Monday amid choppy sea and cyclonic weather. The rescue efforts were still on till the time of reporting on Tuesday.

The rescuers are racing against time, battling with ferocious wind and three-storey-high waves. People aware of the situation said the choppy sea has made transfer of people from barges to rescue ships a challenging task.

Many of those rescued from Papaa 350 are reported to have been pulled out of the water after floating for many hours in their life jackets. People in the know said all on board had put on life vests and initiated evacuation measures as soon as the barge showed signs of tilting.

The barges and the drillship were deployed for drilling and exploration in Heera field of Mumbai High and western offshore, which make up ONGC’s main production base.

The vessels had gone adrift on Monday after their moorings snapped due to the ferocity of cyclone Tuktae, which pushed up wind speed to 195 km and created waves as high as 6-8 metres.

ONGC and Afcon is individually updating the families of people on board the vessels. ONGC brass is monitoring the rescue and relief operation round-the-clock.

The barges and the drillship were deployed for drilling and exploration in Heera field of Mumbai High and western offshore, which make up ONGC’s main production base.

Source:www.energyworld.com

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