Arabian Sea tragedy: Culpable homicide charge against barge Master, others


The Yellowgate Police Station has lodged a first information report invoking charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder against the Master of the Barge Papaa-305 and others in connection with the tragedy in the Arabian Sea which left at least 49 dead and many more missing, officials said here on Friday.

The police have acted on a complaint filed by the Barge chief engineer Rahman H. Shaikh who was among the survivors picked up by the Indian Navy rescue ships earlier this week.

The development came two days after the police launched its probe to ascertain why the barge allegedly failed to adhere to safety norms despite warnings of the impending Cyclone Tauktae which wreaked havoc on the country’s west coast last Sunday onwards.

Besides culpable homicide not amounting to murder, the barge Master Rakesh Ballav and others are also charged with common intentions, negligent acts causing hurt to others, etc.

It may be recalled that of the 342-plus offshore installations of the Oil & Natural Gas Corporation Ltd. including 243 fixed and the rest floating, five of the latter including the Barge Papaa-305 were caught in the turbulence of the cylone and it sank late on Monday.

ONGC and maritime sources said that during the Cyclone Tauktae fury, there were an estimated around 10,000 people in and around the vicinity of the Bombay High Fields, around 175 kms off Mumbai.

These included over 7,600 people of the ONGC, 1,290 of Afcons Infrastructure Ltd, and the others on smaller barges or supply vessels providing various types of services on the high seas at the BHF.

Of the total human presence in the BHF region, around 6,900 were on different types of 94 floating vessels, and the rest on the ONGCs fixed installations like oil rigs, drills or platforms, which did not suffer any casualties.