Mumbai: In a gruesome tragedy, Cyclone Tauktae claimed the lives of at least 26 personnel onboard barge of P305 that went adrift in the cyclone fury before sinking in the Arabia Sea off Mumbai coast and over 50 are still missing, a Navy official said on Wednesday.
After dare-devil rescue missions continued for more than 48 hours, the bodies of the victims were recovered and were brought to Mumbai by Indian Navy ships.
The Union Ministry for Petroleum & Natural Gas late this evening ordered setting up a high-level committee to probe the sequence of events leading to the stranding of ONGC vessels in the Cyclone Tauktae, etc.
The Western Naval Command confirmed the deaths of the 26 persons even as efforts are underway to trace another 49 who are untraceable missing in the still choppy seas near the Bombay High Fields, around 175 km off Mumbai.
INS Kochi has brought the bodies to the Mumbai harbour, along with many of the others rescued.
As Cyclone Tauktae ravaged the Maharashtra coastal areas and whirled towards Gujarat, the ill-fated barge in the offshore development area of Bombay High Field had sunk late on Monday night.
A total of 261 persons were on board Pappa-305, an accommodation barge.
The Afcons Infrastructure Ltd (AIL), which had contracted the sunken barge, expressed regrets over the fatalities in the high seas and said its immediate focus is to locate and rescue the remaining missing personnel on priority.
"The safety and wellbeing of our people are our topmost priority, and we're doing everything possible to address this unprecedented crisis. We know nothing can ever compensate for the loss of a loved one, but we will extend our fullest support including financial assistance to the bereaved families in this hour of their need," the AIL added.
The Indian Navy has so far saved around 190 persons from that Barge, besides many more from other stranded or drifting vessels in one of the biggest search and rescue operations mounted under extreme weather conditions.
Rescue operations are still underway in the Arabian Sea as the weather conditions improved since this morning.