Barge P305 incident: Total 61 bodies recovered by Mumbai Police, search operations continue

The Mumbai Police have so far got 61 bodies of those who had died in the barge P-305 mishap in the sea during Tauk'Te cyclone. The police have identified 31 of the deceased persons and of them 28 deceased persons have been handed over to their relatives. The police are getting DNA samples of the remaining deceased persons preserved so that they can be identified in future.

On Friday, Yellow Gate police on the complaint of chief engineer Mustafizur Rehman Shaikh, 48, had registered a against the captain, Rakesh Ballav and others under sections 304(II) (culpable homicide not amounting to murder , 338 (causing grievous hurt by an act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code after Barge P-305 had capsized in the cyclone near Heera oil fields in Bombay High.

"So far we have recovered 61 bodies of which 31 deceased persons have been identified. Bodies of 28 of identified persons have been handed over to their family while we are getting DNA samples of the remaining deceased persons preserved so that they can be identified in future," said Mumbai police spokesperson and deputy commissioner of police, Chaitanya S.

Shaikh, who is currently recuperating at Apollo hospital in Tardeo, was rescued by the Indian Navy after he along with others jumped into the sea after the barge started sinking.

In his statement to the police, Shaikh stated their barge was anchored besides the ONGC platform when a warning about the cyclone was issued. Instead of moving the barge to a safer location, the captain ordered that they will stay anchored. At that time, a tug boat was 5 nautical miles away from P- 305.

By 11 pm the wind speed was increasing by the minute; and within hours two of its eight anchors snapped; it was only then that the captain called the tug boat; however, by then it was 6 nautical miles away.

"The captain should have sent a distress signal by now, but he didn't raise an alarm,’’ claims Shaikh.

By 4 am three more anchors gave away leaving the barge tilting precariously, and by 8 am the last three anchors also snapped leaving the barge without any moorings. As the wind speed reached 60-70 km per hour a container fell into the sea. Around 9.45 pm, the barge hit the ONGC platform and water started entering the barge, he said.

Meanwhile, to augment the ongoing SAR ops for the missing crew of Barge P305 & Tug Varapradha, specialised diving teams onboard INS Makar with side scan sonar & INS Tarasa sailed out early morning on Saturday from Mumbai, officials informed.

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