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Sunk Barge P305 Located by Indian Navy on Seabed, Hunt Continues for Missing Crew

Fishermen on a fishing boat try to recover their smaller boat, which had drifted away due to rough sea owing to Cyclone Tauktae, in Mumbai PTI

Fishermen on a fishing boat try to recover their smaller boat, which had drifted away due to rough sea owing to Cyclone Tauktae, in Mumbai PTI

The barge, which housed personnel engaged in maintenance work of an offshore oil drilling platform of state-run oil and gas major ONGC, sank on Monday evening off the Mumbai coast during Cyclone Tauktae.

Barge P-305, which sank off Bombay High earlier this week, has been located at the seabed after systematic search by INS Makar by employing advanced side-scan sonar. Search efforts for the remaining crew members of the barge and tug boat Varaprada are going on.

The barge, which housed personnel engaged in maintenance work of an offshore oil drilling platform of state-run oil and gas major ONGC, sank on Monday evening off the Mumbai coast during Cyclone Tauktae. The barge had gone adrift in the cyclone fury before sinking.

At least 15 people are still missing from the barge and 11 from Varaprada.

Sixty-one bodies have been pulled out of the sea so far. As many as 43 bodies have been identified so far and 41 bodies handed over to the relatives, Mumbai Police said on Saturday.

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The police also sent 30 samples for DNA testing to identify some of the bodies. The Navy has handed over 61 bodies of victims to the city police.

“We handed over the bodies of 41 victims to their families. The identity of 18 victims is yet to be established. Two bodies have been identified but not handed over to the kin yet," a police official said.

As some bodies were in decomposed state or had deep injuries, blood samples of victims and relatives were sent for DNA testing to the Forensic Science Laboratory at Kalina here to ascertain or confirm the identity, he added. RT-PCR tests were also conducted to ascertain whether the deceased had COVID-19, he said.

Meanwhile, four bodies were on Saturday found on the coast in Gujarat’s Valsad district with the local police suspecting that they could be some of the missing victims of the barge P-305. A Navy spokesperson said the death toll in the P-305 tragedy rose to 66 with the recovery of six more bodies during the day, while nine personnel are still missing. Of 261 personnel onboard the barge, 186 were rescued.

(With PTI inputs)

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