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The navy has rescued four more crew members from the sunken barge, which de-anchored from an oil rig in Bombay High into the Arabian Sea hours before the Cyclone Tauktae made landfall on the Gujarat coast late on Monday, officials said. Search operations were going on for the remaining 89 workers on the barge that sank about 35 nautical miles off Mumbai.
The navy earlier until Tuesday evening rescued 180 of the 273 crew members from the barge, about 20 hours after they were forced to jump in the extremely rough sea after the barge sank.
Four more members were rescued during the night, said commander Mehul Karnik, chief public relations officer, Western Naval Command.
Cyclone Tauktae (210km per hour when it came ashore in Gujarat) is the most powerful storm to hit the region in over two decades.
Also Read | Cyclone Tauktae weakens into depression, says IMD
The barge was deployed at a platform in Heera oil fields, the largest of the ONGC rigs in the Bombay High area. It got de-anchored on Sunday night and according to deputy chief of naval staff, vice-admiral Murlidhar Sadashiv Pawar, the barge sank at 7pm on Monday in a very choppy sea and rough weather which made the subsequent search and rescue operation one of the most challenging operations the navy has undertaken in four decades.
Karnik said INS Kochi and INS Kolkata are returning to Mumbai with rescued crew members. INS Beas, Betwa, and Teg, which joined the search and rescue for the barge on Tuesday, will continue the search with the help of P-8I aircraft and naval helicopters.
The navy and coast guards have rescued all 137 crew members of GAL Constructor, another barge that ran aground north off Mumbai, near Satpati in Palghar district. The barge was being brought to Mumbai, when it got off from the tugboat that was toeing it to the Mumbai harbour on Sunday evening. The crew members tried to hold the barge in place by putting all its four anchors, but the cyclonic storm cut off the anchor, setting it adrift.
Search and rescue were also conducted by the navy on Tuesday off the coast of Gujarat for three vessels, Support Station (SS) 3, Great Ship Aditi and Drill Ship Sagar Bhushan, which were 15-20 nautical miles south-east off Pipapav on the Gujarat coast.
Karnik said the 196 personnel on SS 3 and 101 personnel on Sagar Bhushan are safe and they were being towed to safety.INS Talwar is anchored in the area as a precautionary measure.