As search and rescue efforts entered the fourth day, eleven more bodies were recovered from Barge P305, which had sunk off the Mumbai coast on Monday. This takes the death toll to 37, and 38 are missing.
Indian Navy ships worked through the night, using searchlights to trace any movement in the pitch dark waters, as hopes of finding more survivors began to recede on Thursday. As many as 37 personnel on board the barge are dead and 38 still missing, after Navy personnel, battling extreme weather, so far rescued 188 of the 261 people who were on board the barge P305 and two personnel from tugboat Varaprada.
Navy in a statement said that a unit of Coast Guard has joined the search and rescue (SAR) operations being carried out in the Arabian Sea. "188 survivors and 37 Brave Nature Victims (BNV) rescued and recovered so far. INS Kolkata arrived at Mumbai and is disembarking survivors and BNVs. INS Kochi rejoins SAR efforts. Indian Navy ships and aircraft continue to search for the missing crew members. Coast Guard units have joined the SAR effort," tweeted the Spokesperson of the Indian Navy.
The Navy on Thursday morning launched a fresh aerial search and rescue mission, deploying helicopters to scour the waters off Mumbai coast, where the accommodation barge P305 went adrift in Cyclone Tauktae fury before it sank Monday.
Naval ships INS Kochi on Wednesday morning and INS Kolkata late Wednesday night brought the bodies of these "Brave Nature's Victims" to Mumbai, a Navy spokesperson told PTI.
Navy ships INS Kochi, INS Kolkata, INS Beas, INS Betwa, INS Teg, P8I maritime surveillance aircraft, Chetak, ALH and Seaking helicopters are involved in the SAR operation, he said.
Another Navy ship, INS Talwar, was the 'On Scene Coordinator' off Gujarat coast and assisted Support Station 3 (SS-3) and Drill Ship Sagar Bhushan, which were being safely towed back to Mumbai by ONGC support vessels, he added.
Ships were deployed on Monday after the Navy was informed that barge 'P305' had gone adrift off the Heera oil fields in Bombay high area with 261 personnel on board. The oil fields are around 70 km southwest of Mumbai.
(With inputs from PTI)