Indian navy recovers 37 bodies from sunken barge after cyclone

Search continues for 38 others also on board when Cyclone Tauktae hit on Monday

Some 188 people have been rescued from the offshore barge P305, after Cyclone Tauktae hit the west coast of India. Photograph: Indian Navy/AFP via Getty

Some 188 people have been rescued from the offshore barge P305, after Cyclone Tauktae hit the west coast of India. Photograph: Indian Navy/AFP via Getty

 

Indian navy ships have worked through the night to recover the bodies of 37 people on board a barge that sank off Mumbai when a powerful cyclone hit the region on Monday.

Thirty-eight people who were on board are still missing.

Driving waves of up to 25ft on the high seas, Cyclone Tauktae rammed into the western states of Maharashtra and Gujarat on Monday and Tuesday, with sustained winds of up to 210km/h.

At least 29 people in the two states were killed by the cyclone, as well as the 37 people recovered from the barge.

Navy spokesman Mehul Karnik said five ships, a surveillance aircraft and three helicopters were involved in the search. He said most of 188 survivors and the 37 bodies had arrived in Mumbai.

Indrajeet Singh, a survivor, recalled that everyone on the barge rushed to the deck sensing danger. He said water gushed into the barge and it started tilting.

“I had no other option except jumping into the sea to save my life,” he said.

The survivors bobbed up and down in life jackets for up to eight hours before they were picked up by the rescuers, he said.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi inspected the damage from the air on Wednesday, promising government assistance.

Officials reported more than 16,000 houses were damaged in Gujarat and thousands of trees and electric pylons were uprooted.

In another operation, a navy helicopter rescued 35 crew members of another barge, which ran aground north of Mumbai, a government statement said.

Both barges were working for Oil and Natural Gas, the largest crude oil and natural gas company in India.

The company said the vessels were carrying personnel deployed for offshore drilling. – Associated Press