Mumbai: Three days after Barge P-305 capsized in the cyclone near Heera oil fields in Bombay High, an FIR was registered against the captain, Rakesh Ballav, at Yellow Gate police station: the charge is culpable homicide not amounting to murder and endangering of lives.
The offence has been registered on the complaint of chief engineer Mustafizur Rehman Shaikh, 48, who is currently recuperating at Apollo hospital in Tardeo; Shaikh 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.
The Mumbai police have so far retrieved 49 bodies and 27 of them have been identified. Eventually, the police will have to take recourse to DNA sampling to identify the rest.
The family members are still hoping for a miracle. Santosh Kumar, whose brother-in-law Shivkumar Mishra, 54, was a supervisor on the barge, said, "Just before the tragedy Shivkumar called us on WhatsApp and asked us not to panic. But since then there has been no communication". "We have checked at least 25 bodies, and none is his. We hope he is still alive and will be rescued soon," he added.