The Indian Navy has undertaken massive search and rescue operations to save the ONGC personnel out in the high seas (Pics: Courtesy Indian Navy)
The Indian Navy is continuing search and rescue operations for the third day after Cyclone Tauktae, the strongest storm ever to hit India's west coast left scores missing and stranded at sea.
One barge, operated by the Indian Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), held a crew of 261 people when it sank in an offshore oilfield on Monday due to the force of the cyclone. The navy has rescued 188 crew members, recovered 22 bodies, and was searching for the remaining 51 as of late Wednesday, said a navy spokesperson.
"We have five ships in the area and two are coming back with the rescued personnel and remaining three are staying for search and rescue," said spokesperson Vivek Madhwal.
Another barge, the GAL Constructor, ran aground off the west coast of Mumbai on Monday. The navy deployed a helicopter and several emergency vessels to evacuate the 137 crew members on board, all of whom are accounted for.
Two other barges are being towed to safety by ONGC tugboats, Madhwal said. ONGC is India's biggest oil and gas company, with many of the barges used to service its offshore operations.
Mass evacuations of people from coastal areas, before the cyclone struck , have helped to keep casualties in check. So far, 40 deaths have been recorded in the western states of Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Gujarat and Goa.
PM carries out aerial survey
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday carried out an aerial survey of cyclone-hit areas in Gujarat and announced a financial assistance of Rs. 1,000 crore for the state. Other states have been assured of similar help as soon as they submit their assessment of the damage caused by cyclone Tauktae to the Centre.
#CycloneTauktae #Update#INSKochi entering Mumbai harbour today morning alongwith rescued personnel from Barge P305.
INS Teg, INS Betwa, INS Beas P8I aircraft & Seaking Helos continuing with Search & Rescue Ops.@indiannavy @SpokespersonMoD @DDNewslive @PIB_India @airnewsalerts pic.twitter.com/jkBY5DnJeI
— PRO Defence Mumbai (@DefPROMumbai) May 19, 2021
He also announced an ex-gratia of Rs. 2 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased and Rs. 50,000 to the seriously injured in the cyclone in Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan and the UTs of Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
The Prime Minister said that the Centre is working closely with the affected state governments in the wake of the situation after the cyclone. Immediate financial assistance for these states would also be given after the respective state governments share their assessments with the Centre.
The Union Government will also deploy an inter-ministerial team to visit the state to assess the extent of damage, based on which further assistance will be given.
PM Modi emphasised the need to continue the focus towards more scientific studies relating to disaster management. He called for devoting more focus to enhancing intra-state coordination as well as using modern communication techniques to ensure quicker evacuation from the affected areas. He also called for immediate attention to be devoted to repairing the damaged houses and properties across affected areas.