NEW DELHI: In an overnight operation, the Indian Naval Ships rescued 177 of the 410 persons onboard two barges, P305 and Gal Constructor, which were left adrift in Arabian Sea near Mumbai due to Cyclone Tauktae.
Another search and rescue operation has been launched to rescue the remaining 233 persons.
Spokesperson of Indian Navy Commander Vivek Madhwal informed, "The Search and Rescue (SAR) operations continued throughout the night and a total of 177 persons from Barge P305 have been rescued till 6 am on Tuesday, 111 by INS Kochi and INS Kolkata, 17 by Offshore Support Vessel (OSV) Greatship Ahilya and 18 by OSV Ocean Energy whilst operating in extremely challenging sea conditions," the official said.
The oil fields are around 70 km southwest of Mumbai.
Sixty persons on board the barge were rescued till 11 pm and the remaining overnight, the official said, adding a Navy helicopter brought three rescuees to INS Shikra this morning.
INS Shikra, formerly known as INS Kunjali, is a naval air station located at Colaba in south Mumbai.
State-run Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) had on Monday said barge P305 with 261 personnel deployed for offshore drilling got de-anchored and began drifting because of the cyclonic storm Tauktae.
P305 being an accommodation barge had no engine to power it, and it hit an oil rig in the vicinity and there was ingress of water, sources said.
A barge is a long flat-bottomed boat either under its power or towed by another.
An accommodation barge is of shallow draft (vessel whose keel is not far below the waterline) and is used to accommodate personnel on projects where shore accommodation is not available.
Offshore accommodation barges are fully autonomous and used mainly in the oil and gas industries.
The Navy on Tuesday morning also deployed the P-8I long-range, multimission maritime patrol aircraft to join the search and rescue operations, the official said.
Another barge, the 'Gal Constructor' with 137 persons onboard has run aground about 48 nautical miles north of Colaba Point, he said.
An Emergency Towing Vessel 'Water Lily', two support vessels and CGS Samrat are in the vicinity for rendering assistance and evacuation of crew, he added.
"INS Talwar has proceeded to assist another oil rig Sagar Bhushan with 101 personnel on board and an accommodation barge SS-3 with 196 personnel on board, both of which are adrift and presently located about 50 NM South East of Pipavav Port," the spokesperson said in a statement.
These ongoing rescue efforts were augmented on Tuesday morning by an Indian Naval P8I surveillance aircraft. Helicopters of Indian Navy will also be deployed for search and rescue operations based on the weather conditions.
The search and rescue operations efforts will continue through the day with more naval assets ready to augment.
(Inputs from PTI)