Updated: August 8, 2021 8:08:40 am
As DNA samples of 10 family members collected after barge P305 and tugboat Varaprada sank in the Arabian Sea off the Mumbai coast during Cyclone Tauktae in May did not match with the bodies in its custody, the Yellow Gate police, which is investigating the incident, has started collecting samples of bodies recovered by the police station that covers the coastline from Sindhudurg to Gujarat.
The police said that there is a possibility that the bodies may have changed hands. Accordingly, they have started collecting DNA samples and also called for information on every body recovered between May 15 and May 25.
According to the police, 75 people working on P305 and 11 from tugboat Varaprada were reported missing during the cyclone. Later, 67 and nine personnel from P305 and Varaprada, respectively, were identified. Ten – seven from P305 and three from Varaprada – were reported missing by the family members of the personnel working on the two vessels.
Senior Inspector Suhas Hemade of Yellow Gate police station said, “The bodies were beyond recognition. So, in order to avoid any mix up, we collected the DNA samples of the immediate family members who had come to Mumbai on May 17 to claim the bodies.”
While some of the samples matched, 10 still remain unidentified. “So, we have started sending teams across the country to collect samples again of other family members. We will try and match the samples with the bodies again,” said Hemade.
On the other hand, officers said that between May 15 and May 25, some bodies were also recovered by the authorities in Raigad, Daman and Valsad and Surat in Gujarat. “On the basis of the description narrated by the local authorities, many family members were sent to the respective districts, who identified some bodies,” said Hemade.
However, while the Raigad police still has eight unidentified bodies, Surat in Gujarat has four and Valsad and Daman one each. Officers of Yellow Gate police said that they have collected the samples of these bodies, which they are trying to match with the DNA samples of the ones in their custody.
“The authorities from the Surat forensic science laboratory told us that they will hand over DNA samples to the local police and directed us to collect the same from them,” said Hemade.
Meanwhile, the police station that covers the coastline across Maharashtra has been requested to inform about the bodies it had recovered between May 15 and May 25. “We have also started collecting DNA samples of these bodies because there are high chances that the bodies of the personnel working in the barge may have travelled underwater and found floating at other shores. So, we will get the details of those bodies and try to match them with the DNA samples of the family members who are still waiting to see the remains of their loved ones,” said Hemade.
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