Three crewmembers died while two others were hospitalised, apparently after inhaling toxic gas in the engine room of a barge off the coast of Mumbai late on Friday.
The incident took place around 10.30pm when the Orion II barge with five crewmembers on board anchored alongside Singaporean bulk carrier ship MV Thor Endeavor to unload 250 tonnes of wheat. According to officials of the Coast Guard Maritime Rescue Coordination Center (MRCC), after the crew failed to respond, Coast Guard Ship C-154 was prepared for emergency sailing with deputy commandant C Vijay Kumar as the commanding officer. It reached the Orion II at 12.20am.
Crew members Mangesh Bhosle, 27, Jayanta Chaudary, 23, and Kritik Son Koch, 27, were declared dead while Ganesh Bitaa, 40, and Daud Ibrahim Kurey, 50, the captain, were taken to Bombay Hospital. Bitaa and Kurey remain under observation there.
“Chaudhary first entered the ballast tank to fit a de-flooding pump and fell unconscious on inhaling the poisonous gas. As Chaudhary did not return, Bhosle went to check on him. He too did not report back, so Son Koch went there and he too fell unconscious,” said Yogesh Bhosale, the engine driver on board Orion II.
MRCC officials said the ballast tank or the sludge tank is three decks below, with a small hatch that can only be used by one person at a time.
Chaudhary began working on the barge six months ago, while Bhosale and SonKoch had been doing so for the past two years. They earned Rs 6,000 a month.
The Malabar Hill police have registered accidental death reports. An investigation to ascertain the cause of the three deaths is underway.