New Delhi, May 19 (EFE).- At least 22 of the missing people, who were aboard a barge that sank off Mumbai, have lost their lives, officials said Wednesday, as a powerful cyclone swept through the western coast of India, killing scores in its trail of death and destruction.
The barge carried 273 people on board when it sank on Monday due to the storm on the Arabian Sea.
An Indian navy spokesperson tweeted that searchers had until Wednesday afternoon recovered 22 bodies and rescued 188 survivors from the sunken barge.
The search for 63 people missing continued, the spokesperson said.
The cyclone, Tauktae, rammed through the western states of Gujarat and Maharashtra, whose capital is Mumbai.
The storm triggered towering waves on the high seas and inundated the offshore oil rigs off Mumbai, sinking the barge around 35 nautical miles away from the financial capital of India.
The navy tweeted pictures and videos of the rescue operation, showing naval vessels and planes searching the waters off the coast.
The barge went adrift on Monday when the cyclone made landfall in Gujarat, carrying gusts of over 180 km per house.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi conducted an aerial survey over parts of Gujarat and the nearby island of Diu to assess the situation in the wake of Cyclone Tauktae.
“The central government is working closely with all the states affected by the cyclone,” Modi tweeted, posting his photographs in a plane during the survey.
The authorities on Wednesday said the cyclone left 59 people dead during its passage as it wreaked havoc in the coastal states of Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Gujarat.
News agency Press Trust of India, citing several official sources in Gujarat, said 45 people were dead in Modi’s home state, 15 of them in the worst-affected Amreli district.
At least six people died in neighboring Maharashtra and eight in Karnataka.
Heavy rains and winds disrupted the power supply in thousands of villages and caused extensive damage to some 16,500 homes, officials estimated.
The cyclone forced the evacuation of more than 200,000 people in Gujarat and around 12,500 in Maharashtra.
Tauktae added to woes as India registers a record number of daily Covid-19 infections and deaths amid a devastating second wave of the pandemic.
The country set a new record of more than 4,500 Covid-19 deaths in the last 24 hours from Tuesday morning, even as the number of new infections continued to decline.
Vaccination drive got suspended in many cyclone-hit areas as the storm also put hospitals at risk.
Cyclones often hit the Indian coast, leaving a trail of death and destruction.
Seven people lost their lives when Cyclone Burevi struck southern Indian last December, damaging hundreds of homes.