Search operations are still on to locate 37 crew members who were onboard Papaa–305 construction barge and Varaprada, when they were hit by the cyclone’ fury in the open sea
New Delhi: Three construction barges of Afcons working on a project of state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), and one floater drilling rig of upstream explorer in Arabian Sea were ‘severely impacted’ in cyclone Tauktae, the state-run firm said in a statement on Friday.
Search operations are still on to locate 37 crew members who were onboard Papaa–305 construction barge and Varaprada, when they were hit by the cyclone’ fury in the open sea.
“Cyclone Tauktae had hit Arabian Sea off the coast of Mumbai in the early hours of May 17, 2021 where ONGC’s major production installations and drilling rigs are located," the statement said.
According to petroleum and natural gas ministry, five vessels carrying 714 personnel were caught in the cyclone, of which 628 people were rescued and 49 bodies were recovered. These vessels were Sagar Bhushan drill ship, construction barges—Support Station-3, Gal Constructor and P-305—with Varaprada handling the anchor of Gal Constructor.
The P-305 barge sank on Monday, 35 miles off Mumbai. A total number of 7,675 people on 342 installations comprising of 99 floating and 342 fixed ones were impacted by the cyclone that tore across western India. Of these 99 floating vessels and rigs 94 remained safe at sea and shore. The cyclone caused extensive loss of life and property is western India.
“All the anchors of the Barge P-305 had given away, it started drifting and hit an unmanned platform of ONGC resulting in water ingress and eventually capsized at around 1700 Hrs of 17 May 2021. ONGC OSVs (Offshore Supply Vessels) were immediately pressed into service for rescue operation along with INS Kochi and INS Kolkata of Indian Navy and Coast Guard vessel," the ONGC statement said.
The anchors of most of the vessels gave way, with the towing line of Support Station-3 barge snapping away. While 49 bodies of personnel from Papaa–305 construction barge have been recovered, search is ongoing for its remaining 26 crew and for 11 crew of Varaprada.
“ONGC along with Indian Navy and Coast Guard immediately swung into rescue operations. ONGC, Indian Navy and Coast Guard are continuing with extensive search and rescue operations," the ONGC statement added.
While all 202 personnel on Support Station-3 vessel, 101 personnel on Sagar Bhushan drill ship, 137 personnel on Gal Constructor were brought on shore safely; only 186 personnel out of a total of 261 personnel on Papaa–305 could be rescued. Also, only two of 13 personnel on Varaprada vessel could be saved.
After these vessels got stranded at sea, the petroleum and natural gas ministry ministry set up a high-level enquiry committee to ascertain the causes and lapses that led to loss of lives.
While Afcons is working on the compensation for the affected crew, ONGC has announced an immediate relief of Rs1 lakh to the survivors and Rs2 lakh for the victims and missing persons’ families.
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