Indian navy searches for 78 missing in storm sunken barge


NEW DELHI – Indian Navy ships and helicopters searched Wednesday in extreme weather conditions and rough seas for 78 people still missing from a barge that sank off Mumbai as a deadly cyclone exploded this week .

Marine Cdr. Alok Anand said 183 people were rescued within 24 hours by the three ships and helicopters involved in the operation.

A survivor told New Delhi Television news channel he jumped into the sea with his life jacket on and was later picked up by the navy.

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In another operation, a navy helicopter rescued 35 crew members from another barge, GAL Constructor, which ran aground north of Mumbai, a government statement said.

Both barges worked for Oil and Natural Gas Corp., India’s largest crude oil and natural gas company.

Two men help a motorist wade through a waterlogged street after heavy rains in Ahmedabad, India on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. Cyclone Tauktae, the most powerful storm to hit the region in more than two decades, resulted in sustained winds of up to 210 kilometers (130 miles) per hour when it made landfall in Gujarat state on Monday evening.  (AP Photo / Ajit Solanki)

Two men help a motorist wade through a waterlogged street after heavy rains in Ahmedabad, India on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. Cyclone Tauktae, the most powerful storm to hit the region in more than two decades, resulted in sustained winds of up to 210 kilometers (130 miles) per hour when it made landfall in Gujarat state on Monday evening. (AP Photo / Ajit Solanki)

The company said the barges were carrying personnel deployed for offshore drilling and their anchors gave way during the storm.

Cyclone Tauktae, the most powerful storm to hit the region in more than two decades, brought sustained winds of up to 210 kilometers per hour when it made landfall in the state of Gujarat on Monday evening. The storm has left at least 25 people dead in the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra.

The Hindu newspaper on Wednesday recorded more than 16,000 houses damaged in the state of Gujarat and trees and electricity poles were uprooted.

The cyclone weakened into a depression centered over southern Rajasthan state and neighboring Gujarat, a statement from the Indian Meteorological Department said on Wednesday.

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In Nepal, authorities on Tuesday asked climbers to descend from high altitudes because the storm system can cause extreme weather conditions.

Hundreds of climbers, guides and staff can be found on different mountains of Nepal, trying to climb the peaks this month when the weather is usually the best at high altitudes. Nepal has eight of the 14 highest peaks in the world, including Mount Everest.

The Ministry of Tourism in a statement on Tuesday asked climbers and outfitters to monitor the weather and stay safe.

In 2014, snowstorms and cyclone-triggered avalanches in India killed 43 people in the mountains of Nepal in the Himalayan nation’s worst hiking disaster.

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The snowstorms were reportedly whipped by the tail of a cyclone that hit the Indian coast days earlier.

Blizzards swept through the famous Annapurna hiking route and hikers were caught off guard when the weather changed rapidly.

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Associate News Editor Binaj Gurubacharya contributed to this report from Kathmandu, Nepal.

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