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Goa: Barge crew members still missing, kin say they are being kept in the dark

🔴On December 2, the barge carrying iron ore set sail for Goa from Jaigarh port in Maharashtra. It encountered heavy rain and strong sea currents at about 2 am. According to Coast Guard officials, after encountering rough weather, the barge is suspected to have capsized.

Written by Jayprakash S Naidu | Mumbai |
December 11, 2021 4:09:38 am
Goa barge, Goa men missing, Goa coast guard, Men rescued in Goa, Goa coast guard news, Panaji news, Goa news, Indian Express news, Indian coast guardNitesh Vishwakarma was rescued. (Source: Coast Guard)

Over a week after Merchant Vessel Sri Krishna is suspected to have sunk near the Goa coast, four of the 10 crew members on board the barge are still missing. Their family members told The Indian Express that no information has been forthcoming from the company.

On December 2, the barge carrying iron ore set sail for Goa from Jaigarh port in Maharashtra. It encountered heavy rain and strong sea currents at about 2 am. According to Coast Guard officials, after encountering rough weather, the barge is suspected to have capsized. Of the 10 crew members, the Coast Guard found one dead and rescued two, while three others were rescued by three separate fishing boats. According to sources, the depth at the barge’s last known location, south of the Vengurla rocks, was about 23 metres.

The four crew members who are missing are barge captain Pankaj Kumar, 46, two masters who assisted him — Mosharraf Alam, 39, and Ali Mahammad SK, 34 — and crew member Satish Tandel.

Kumar’s nephew Siddharth Singh said, “We are pinning our hopes on the Coast Guard to find him. I was in touch with him on the phone regularly. He had said there were issues with the ship and it had undergone repairs recently. He was on board the barge for three months and was to return in March next year. His wife and two children stay in Rajasthan. I do not know what to tell them. The company only tells me that their rescue operations are on, nothing else.”

Ali Mahammad’s cousin Abu Mulla said, “I am still in Goa waiting for an update on Ali. He is from West Bengal. His mother had to be hospitalized on hearing the news. His wife has not eaten since she heard about it. He was the only earning member. His father is old and his brothers are teenagers.”

He added, “The company representatives tell me it’s impossible to find them alive now, so they are searching for the body. On Friday I was told that the divers have been given rest for the day. In such an emergency they should have hired more divers.”

Alam’s relative Shahnawaz Alam, 41, said, “My sister-in-law got married to Mosharraf last year. His family is based in Bihar. She is pregnant. What should I tell her? He was the sole breadwinner of his family. The company that hired him is just telling us that search operations are on. I stayed in Goa for over a week and spent Rs 70,000, and had to return to Delhi as I ran out of money. We are being kept in the dark. I want the Coast Guard to locate the barge so it can be investigated if there were any issues with the ship that led to its capsizing.”

Tandel’s family could not be contacted.

ICG commandant and spokesperson R K Singh told The Indian Express, “The Coast Guard ships and aircraft that were involved in the SAR mission have not located or sighted any further survivors or body or the barge. Notwithstanding the Coast Guard ships on patrol at sea have been directed to keep a sharp lookout.”

The Indian Express also reached out to the shipping company but did not receive a comment till the time of going to press.

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