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Monday, June 21, 2021

53 bodies identified and handed over, 14 unidentified in Raigad, Gujarat

It is suspected that several bodies of MV Varaprada and barge P-305 crew washed ashore Gujarat and Raigad, the Navy said. All bodies are accounted for and a final statement will be issued only after all of them are identified.

Written by Jayprakash S Naidu | Mumbai |
May 25, 2021 2:37:56 am
Family members of Tarak Sarkar mourn outside the JJ Hospital mortuary on Monday. (Photo: Ganesh Shirsekar)

A WEEK after barge P-305 and MV Varaprada sank in the Arabian Sea owing to cyclone Tauktae’s impact, Yellow Gate police and local police in Gujarat and Daman handed 53 bodies of the victims, who were on board, to their respective families following identification.

Yet to be identified in the JJ Hospital mortuary are 20 more bodies. Total 33 bodies are still yet to be identified.

On Monday, the INS Makar spotted the wreck of MV Varaprada, but until late at night, divers could not find any bodies in it. Also, no more bodies were found in sea. An Indian Navy official said rescue operations are almost over and could be called off soon.

It is suspected that several bodies of MV Varaprada and barge P-305 crew washed ashore Gujarat and Raigad, the Navy said. All bodies are accounted for and a final statement will be issued only after all of them are identified.

Of the total nine bodies that washed up on the Gujarat coast – two at Daman and seven in Valsad – three have so far been identified as those of crew members of MV Varaprada.

The bodies of Captain Nagendra Kumar and deputy chief engineer Umeed Singh were identified on Sunday, while electrician Saddam Hussain Ijaz Ahmed’s body was identified on Monday. Valsad Police said they also recovered four life rafts.

Eight bodies that came ashore in Raigad, Maharashtra, are also awaiting identification.

In all, there were 261 people on board barge P-305. Of them, 186 were rescued by last Tuesday. Seventy bodies were recovered from the sea, of which 50 have been identified as the crew members of barge P-305.

Of the 13 crew members of MV Varaprada, two were rescued, three bodies have been identified and the remaining eight still remain to be missing or unidentified. The police are hopeful of identifying them from the remaining 13 bodies recovered in Raigad and Gujarat.

Two families that received the bodies of their loved ones at JJ Hospital late on Monday were from Rajasthan and West Bengal. For the Meghwals of Rajasthan, it was identifying the body of a second family member.

On Monday, the body of Supervisor Amraram Meghwal (40) was identified by his finger ring, a broken toe in the left leg and an iron rod fitted into his left shoulder. He was on P-305. His brother, Papuram Meghwal, a welder (32), too died in the accident and his body was identified on Friday. Both were married and had two sons each, all below 11 years of age. The duo were the only two sons of their parents.

Their cousin, Kishor Ranawat (24), who works as clerk in Rajasthan Police, said, “The two brothers and their 20-year-old cousin, Mahendra Kumar, jumped into the sea together at 4 pm and were holding hands. At 6 pm, a huge wave pulled away Amraram, and some hours later, another huge wave pulled away Papuram. Mahendra survived for 14 hours in the cyclone and was rescued, but he went into depression.”

The body of Tarak Sarkar (28), chief cook on the barge, was also handed over to his family, who came from West Bengal for the identification.

Sarkar’s 24-year-old wife was inconsolable outside the mortuary. The couple got married 10 months ago. His uncle, Parimal Sarkar, said: “Tarak’s company did not inform us. We found out that he is dead four days later on May 21 from another person, who works on ships in Mumbai. We identified him by his clothes.”

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