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Bodies recovered from barge that sank off Mumbai during cyclone

© Shutterstock FeedRescued employees by Indian Navy seen at INS Shikra in Colaba.
Employees working at an oil rig were stranded at sea due to cyclone 'Tauktae'.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Ashish Vaishnav/SOPA Images/Shutterstock
Rescued employees by Indian Navy seen at INS Shikra in Colaba. Employees working at an oil rig were stranded at sea due to cyclone 'Tauktae'. Mandatory Credit: Photo by Ashish Vaishnav/SOPA Images/Shutterstock

Indian navy ships have recovered 22 bodies of people who were aboard a barge that sank off Mumbai as a cyclone blew ashore this week.

The search is continuing for 55 more missing people, navy spokesman Mehul Karnik said.

He said the three ships and helicopters involved in the search had rescued 184 people in rough seas with waves of up to seven metres (25ft).

Cyclone Tauktae, the most powerful storm to hit the region in more than two decades, packed sustained winds of up to 130 miles per hour when it came ashore in Gujarat state late on Monday.

The storm left more than 50 dead in Gujarat and Maharashtra states.

The weather has since improved and the search operation for the missing people has been intensified, navy commander Alok Anand said.

A survivor told the New Delhi Television news channel that he jumped into the sea with his life jacket and was later picked up by the navy.

In another operation, a navy helicopter rescued 35 crew members of another barge, GAL Constructor, which ran aground north of Mumbai, a government statement said.

Both barges were working for Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, the largest crude oil and natural gas company in India.

The company said the barges were carrying personnel deployed for offshore drilling and their anchors gave away during the storm.

India’s biggest offshore oil rigs are located off Mumbai.

The Hindu newspaper reported that more than 16,000 houses were damaged by the cyclone in Gujarat state.

The storm has weakened into a depression centred over the south of Rajasthan state and adjoining Gujarat region, the Indian Meteorological Department said on Wednesday.

In neighbouring Nepal, authorities asked mountaineers to descend from high altitudes because the storm might bring severe weather.

Hundreds of climbers, guides and staff are attempting to climb various mountains in Nepal this month, when weather is usually the most favourable in the high altitudes.

Nepal has eight of the world’s 14 highest peaks, including Mount Everest.

Nepal’s Department of Tourism on Tuesday asked climbers and outfitting agencies to monitor the weather and stay safe.

In 2014, snowstorms and avalanches triggered by a cyclone in India killed 43 people in Nepal’s mountains in the worst hiking disaster in the Himalayan nation.

The snowstorms were believed to be whipped by the tail end of a cyclone that hit the Indian coast a few days earlier.

The blizzards swept through the popular Annapurna trekking route and hikers were caught off guard when the weather changed quickly.

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