Cyclone ‘Tauktae’: All Bodies Accounted For, Death Toll Now 86
Seventy bodies have been recovered in search operations conducted in the Arabian sea & the rest were washed ashore.
Almost a week after the devastating Cyclone ‘Tauktae’, bodies of the captain and another crew member of tugboat Varaprada, which was submerged during the cyclonic storm, were identified among several bodies found over the weekend, Yellow Gate police officials said on Sunday, 23 May.
Meanwhile, Indian Navy Ship (INS) Makar located tugboat Varaprada on Monday, and search operations are underway to locate bodies, if any, PTI reported.
So far, 70 bodies from the two vessels that sank near Bombay High Fields have been recovered in several search operations conducted in the Arabian sea.
While there were 261 persons on board Papaa-305, 13 others were on board Varaprada, an anchor-handling vessel.
Additionally, on Sunday, 16 bodies were recovered from the shore in Maharashtra and Gujarat – eight each from Raigad district and Valsad. This takes the total toll to 86.
Among those, bodies of 62-year-old Nagendra Kumar, captain of tugboat Varaprada, and Umeed Singh, its second engineer, were washed ashore in Gujarat.
Francis K Simon, chief engineer of the boat and one of the only two survivors from the boat, identified the body, The Indian Express reported. The other survivor from the tug boat is 23-year-old sailor Saheb Bhunia.
Bhunia and Simon were rescued by INS Kolkata which spotted them in a life raft within hours of the the boat drowning. Eleven members from the 13-member crew were killed in the deluge.
186 Rescued From Barge P305
Meanwhile, the Indian Navy on Sunday recovered four bodies during search operations around P 305, an accommodation barge, which sank some 50 km off the coast of Mumbai. As per the Navy, the four bodies are believed to be of persons aboard P 305.
Of the 261 people on board, 186 have been rescued from the barge, and search boats have now recovered a total of 70 bodies from the sea.
Fourteen people are yet to be accounted for, five from the barge and nine from Varaprada.
However, after the search operations on Sunday, and the bodies found on the shore, all who went missing from sunken barge P 305 and Varaprada are accounted for. The search continues in the sea on Monday, pending confirmation through identification of the bodies recovered.
Police said eight bodies that were washed ashore at Raigad were brought back to Mumbai on Sunday. A team of police has also been sent to Gujarat to try and identify the remaining eight bodies found on the Valsad coast.
“We will use DNA tests to identify highly decomposed bodies. They could be either from Varaprada or barge P 305,” a police official said.
(With inputs from The Indian Express and PTI.)
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