The Indian Navy on Wednesday recovered a total of 22 bodies from the Arabian Sea and brought them back to Mumbai city to begin the process of their identification, Indian media reported. They are reportedly believed to be offshore workers deployed on the Bombay High oil rig located in the Arabian Sea.
Around 30 kilometres off the Mumbai coastline, barges are deployed for offshore drilling purposes. These are long, flat-bottomed boats used to accommodate workers assigned on projects where shore accommodation is not available.
On 17 May, when Cyclone Taukte touched parts of Gujarat and Maharashtra, three barges and a drilling ship went adrift in the Arabian Sea, putting lives at risk. In addition, a tugboat carrying 13 people also went missing.
"184 people have been rescued, operations are still continuing by Naval ships and aircraft. We're still looking out for people in the area. The conditions, right now, have improved", Captain Sachin Sequeira, the commanding officer of Indian Navy warship the INS Kochi, updated the media on Wednesday.
Amit Kumar Kushwaha – one of the survivors from a barge rescued by the Indian Navy – narrated his ordeal to the media upon reaching Mumbai.
"The Barge was sinking, so I had to jump into the sea. I was in the sea for 11 hours. After that, Navy rescued us”, the news agency ANI quoted Kushwaha as saying.
Maharashtra: Crew rescued by Indian Navy from Barge P305 off the coast of Mumbai, walks out of INS Kochi after arriving in Mumbai— ANI (@ANI) May 19, 2021
A member, Amit Kumar Kushwaha says "The Barge was sinking, so I had to jump into the sea. I was in the sea for 11 hours. After that, Navy rescued us" pic.twitter.com/HdWB5WSKeT
Over 50 people are still feared missing on the barges and ship adrift in the Arabian Sea.
Indian Navy vessel the INS Talwar, the emergency towing craft Water Lily, as well as two support vessels and a Coast Guard ship called the Samrat are out at sea to bring people from these vessels back to dry land.