Cyclone crossing India’s west coast sank barge hired by state explorerOil & Natural Gas Corp. triggered a massive operation to rescue 96 people missing from the ship.
“Long-range maritime surveillance planes were assisting the rescue effort, but bad weather was hampering operations,” Indian Navy spokesman Vivek Madhwal said, adding that about 177 people, who were on the barge, were rescued during an overnight operation.
Another Indian Navy warship sailed on Tuesday to rescue hundreds of people from two other barges operated by the CGSB, which were adrift on the high seas, Madhwal said.
Indian Navy ships and Indian Coast Guard and CGSB vessels have joined the rescue operations, the company said in a statement. The cyclone was equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane, with waves reaching eight meters. ONGC has significant production facilities and drilling platforms in the region.
Cyclone Tauktae, which hit Gujarat state in western India on Monday evening, will gradually weaken over the next three hours, according to the Indian meteorological department. Heavy rains are likely to continue in parts of the western state of Gujarat, with wind speeds reaching up to 125 kilometers (78 miles) per hour, he said.
The intensity of the cyclone is similar to that which hit Gujarat in 1998, according to Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, director general of the national meteorologist.
Cyclone Tauktae struck as country battles coronaviruspandemic. Hospitals and crematoriums in India are overwhelmed by the world’s fastest epidemic.
Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra state which escaped the worst of the storm, on Monday canceled coronavirus vaccinations at public centers and transferred more than 600 patients from so-called giant facilities – makeshift hospitals to deal with spike in infections – toward government – run hospitals. The city’s international airport was closed for most of the day.
Ports in Gujarat remained closed on Tuesday due to turbulent sea conditions and high wind speeds, according to a state government official responsible for port operations. A resumption decision will be made depending on the situation in the afternoon.
– With the help of Pratik Parija