Barge tragedy toll climbs to 66, divers search for missing persons

The Indian Navy has recovered six more bodies from the Arabian Sea as it launched rescue efforts with diving teams and specialised vessels to search for the remaining missing persons after the tragedy that befell Barge Papaa-305 last Monday, officials said here on Saturday.

With this, the toll has shot up to 66 and another around 10 are still reported missing, while 188 persons have been rescued safely so far.

On Saturday morning, the INS Makar and INS Tarasa set out for the Bombay High Fields, around 175 km off Mumbai, to make an underwater search for the wreckage of Barge Papaa-305 and an anchor-handling tugboat, Varaprada, using experts and special equipment.

INS Makar is a lead ship of the Makar-class of Catamarans used for hydrographic surveys by the Navy for producing navigational charts and is capable of collecting marine environmental information by conducting limited oceanographic surveys.

INS Tarasa is a Navy patrol vessel of the Car Nicobar-class in the series of four Water Jet Fast Attack Craft.

Besides, a p81 long-range multi-mission maritime patrol aircraft conducted reconnaissance missions over the designated areas along with helicopters like ALH, Seaking and Chetak, besides ships such as INS Kolkata, INS Kochi, INS Betwa and INS Beas that are still in the vicinity to trace more bodies.

“To augment the ongoing SAR operations for the crew of Barge Papaa-305 and Tug Varapradha, the specialised diving teams onboard INS Makar (with sonar) and INS Tarasa sailed out early morning today from Mumbai for carrying out an underwater search,” an Indian Navy spokesperson said.