Cyclone Tauktae: Navy ships rescue 132 from barge; aerial search on

Cyclone Tauktae: Navy ships rescue 132 from barge; aerial search on
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Mumbai: The Indian Navy has rescued 132 people on board a barge that went adrift in the Arabia Sea near Mumbai hours before Cyclone Tauktae made landfall on the Gujarat coast, an official said on Tuesday.

The Navy on Tuesday morning deployed the P-8I long- range, multimission maritime patrol aircraft to join the search and rescue operations, the official said.

Three frontline Navy warships were deployed on Monday after receiving messages to rescue 410 people on board two barges off the Mumbai coast.

The ships deployed to extend assistance to the two barges were INS Kolkata, INS Kochi and INS Talwar.

"A total of 132 persons from Barge P305 have been rescued in extremely challenging sea conditions," a Navy spokesperson said on Tuesday morning.

The Search and Rescue (SAR) operations continued through the night for the remaining crew, he said.

"In a separate effort, INS Kolkata rescued two survivors from the life raft of vessel Vara Prabha, and joined INS Kochi for the SAR of Barge P305 crew," he said.

Gal Constructor, another barge with 137 persons onboard has been adrift off the Colaba Point, eight nautical miles from Mumbai coast due to engine trouble, he said.

"This vessel was approached by the Emergency Towing Vessel 'Water Lily' that arrived in its vicinity for rendering assistance. The barge continues to drift N'ly because of extreme sea condition," he said.

These ongoing rescue efforts are being augmented by naval aircraft and helicopters and the SAR efforts will continue through the day, the spokesperson said.

"On receipt of a request for assistance for 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 Navy officer said.

The oil fields are around 70 km southwest of Mumbai.

The Navy spokesperson said the rescue operations on Barge 305 are being undertaken amid extreme weather conditions.