Indian Navy searches for missing 78 from barges sunk by storms


New Delhi (AP) — An Indian Navy ship and helicopter searching for 78 people missing from a barge that sank from Mumbai this Wednesday in extreme weather and stormy waters after a deadly cyclone landed.

Navy Commander Alok Anand said three ships and helicopters engaged in the operation had rescued 183 people within 24 hours.

The survivors told a New Delhi television news channel that they wore life jackets and jumped into the sea and were later picked up by the Navy.

In another operation, a Navy helicopter rescued another barge stranded north of Mumbai, a crew of 35 GAL constructors, a government statement said.

Both barges worked for Jogmec, India’s largest crude oil and gas company.

According to the company, barges carry personnel deployed for offshore drilling and anchors were distributed during the storm.

Cyclone Taukte, the most powerful storm that has hit the region for over 20 years, packed 210 kilometers (130 mph) of continuous wind when it landed in Gujarat at the end of Monday. The storm killed at least 25 people in Gujarat and Maharashtra.

A Hindu newspaper tabulated more than 16,000 damaged homes in Gujarat on Wednesday, and trees and utility poles were uprooted.

According to a statement from the India Meteorological Department, the cyclone is weakening in a depression adjacent to Gujarat, mainly in southern Rajasthan.

In Nepal, on Tuesday authorities urged mountaineers to descend from the highlands because the storm system could cause bad weather.

Hundreds of climbers, guides and staff are on various mountains in Nepal trying to reach the summit of the month, which is usually the best in the highlands. Nepal has eight of the world’s 14 highest peaks, including Everest.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Tourism Board called on climbers and equipment agencies to monitor the weather and keep it safe.

In 2014, a snowstorm and avalanche caused by an Indian cyclone killed 43 people in the mountainous regions of Nepal in the worst hiking disaster in the Himalayas.

The snowstorm was believed to have been blown off by the tail of a cyclone that struck the Indian coast a few days ago.

The snowstorm wiped out the popular Annapurna trekking route, and hikers were surprised when the weather changed rapidly.

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Associated Press writer Binaj Gurubacharya contributed this report from Kathmandu, Nepal.

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