22 onboard barge dead, 60 missing as cyclone leaves a trail of destruction

Gujarat toll rise to 45 as PM assesses situation in coastal areas battered by Tauktae

An aerial view of the damage caused by Cyclone Tauktae in Gujarat. The picture was shared by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Twitter.

At least 22 personnel onboard barge P305 engaged in ONGC drilling that went adrift in the wake of cyclone Tauktae before sinking in the Arabian Sea have been declared dead, PTI reported citing Navy officials. Over 60 people are still missing while at least 180 people have been rescued. The barge sank on Monday.

In coastal Gujarat, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi assessed the situation on May 19, at least 45 people were killed a day earlier as the cyclone left a trail of destruction across a dozen districts of the state. Fifteen deaths were reported from Amreli district in the Saurashtra region, the worst affected in the cyclone that crossed the state coast as an extremely severe cyclonic storm on Monday night and completed landfall around 1.30 am Tuesday, PTI reported citing officials.

Also read: Cyclone: How Navy dramatically rescued those stranded at sea

The PM was in Gujarat’s Bhavnagar where Chief Minister Vijay Rupani received him. Over 16,000 houses were damaged, more than 40,000 trees and over 70,000 electric poles uprooted, while 5,951 villages faced total power blackout as the cyclone roared through the areas, CM Rupani said.

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Tauktae, characterised as an extremely severe cyclonic storm on Monday (May 17), was one of the worst cyclones faced by Gujarat. It has now weakened into a depression, lying centred over south Rajasthan and adjoining Gujarat region, the India Meteorological Department said.

Tauktae triggered heavy rains in many parts from Saurashtra coast to north Gujarat with 46 talukas receiving over 100 mm of downpour, while 12 of them recorded 150 mm to 175 mm of rains.

Meanwhile, Indian Navy Commodore Manoj Jha said on May 19 that 14 bodies had been recovered from the Arabian Sea, two days after a vessel which went adrift during the cyclone. At least 184 personnel who were onboard Barge P305 have been rescued, while search and rescue work conducted by the Indian Navy and Coast Guard is underway for at least 60 others. The personnel are maintenance staff working on ONGC off-shore sites.

Also read: Amphan’s fury conjures up memories of 1737 Bengal cyclone

The storm had battered an oil rig and left three vessels adrift in the Arabian Sea. The Navy confirmed all 101 workers on Sagar Bhushan, the oil rig, had been rescued. The 137 men on Gal Constructor, which ran aground near Palghar, were also rescued. The 196 men on SS03, which is still adrift, are safe and a tug boat has been sent to tow her to safety.

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