Navy, Coast Guard rescue two survivors of barge tragedy

June 6th, 2008 - 10:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, June 6 (IANS) The Indian Navy and Coast Guard, after a search of nearly 40 hours, Friday rescued two survivors of a barge that sank off the coast of Maharashtra. The survivors were identified as Hiralal Mahatu and Kaushal Kumar. While one of the crew swam ashore, four others are still missing. One crew member’s body was recovered after it washed ashore.

According to Head Constable S.D. Kuvkhar of Dapoli police station, the ill-fated barge, Al Murtuza, carried a crew of eight. It sank off Harne port, around 250 km south of Mumbai, Wednesday evening.

Villagers also found the body of one of the labourers, Raju Mahatu, washed ashore Friday morning several kilometres away from the site of the tragedy.

Following a police request, the navy sent a helicopter but it had to abort the search operation on account of stormy weather.

Later Friday, a Seaking helicopter was sent that carried out a few sorties but returned without success due to heavy rains lashing the coastal regions of Maharashtra.

The navy now plans to send a Dornier aircraft for a third attempt to trace out four people still reported missing.

The accident came to light Thursday morning when one of the sailors, Nemchand Anantlal Turi, managed to swim ashore in the choppy seas and stormy weather.

Turi told the police that the vessel was carrying sand from Chiplun to Mumbai’s Reti Bunder when the barge’s bottom suddenly gave away in the high seas.

The police said the barge owner, Mohammed Shaikh Asif Ali, who lives in Mumbra town nearby Thane, has reached Dapoli.

The rescuers will continue the search till the next high tide Friday night after which the four missing would be given up as dead.

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