410 stranded on barges, Indian Navy ships to the rescue

Mumbai, May 17 (IANS): Triggering huge concerns, the Indian Navy has deployed 3 ships to rescue at least 410 persons stranded on two barges off Mumbai coast which has been lashed by Cyclone Tauktae since midnight, officials said here on Monday.

In the first instance, 273 persons are struggling on a drifting barge near the Heera Oilfield at Bombay High Fields of Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), around 175 kms from Mumbai.

Following an SOS from the Barge P305 which is adrift near the oilfields with the crew and ONGC personnel on board, the Indian Navy has despatched two ships INS Kochi and INS Talwar to render assistance.

The ships are expected to reach the venue by late afternoon, and other ships and aircraft also being prepared to go there for a search and rescue operation in the region clobbered by the passing Cyclone Tauktae.

The critical assets of ONGC's Bombay High Fields are falling in the direct path of the raging Cyclone Tauktae, now swirling towards the south Gujarat coast, after wreaking huge havoc in Kerala, Karnataka and Maharashtra.

In the second instance, another stranded barge GAL Constructor, with 137 people onboard sent an SOS from its location around 15 kms in the Arabian Sea off Mumbai.

Responding promptly, the IN has deployed INS Kolkata to render assistance to the crew and passengers on the second barge.

"Several other ships have been readied for HADR tasking in the wake of Cyclone Tauktae that has wreaked havoc along the West coast of India," an IN official said.



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