Three of nine crew members died after they came in contact with a poisonous gas emanated from the sludge tank (that collects wet waste) of a grain carrier barge, called ORION II, 4.5 nautical miles off Mumbai's shore on late Friday night. One crew member, the captain of the barge was rescued by the Coast Guard.
The police are probing whose negligence led to the incident. The gas is yet to be identified. According to the Coast Guard, a Singaporean bulk carrier ship MV Thor Endeavour at around 10.30 pm reported to the Coast Guard Maritime Rescue Coordination Center (MRCC), Mumbai, about an emergency onboard barge ORION II. This was the barge secured alongside the ship for unloading wheat cargo.
The Coast Guard got information of a suspected gas leakage in the engine room. The Coast Guard Ship C-154 was then pressed in operation and officials arrived onboard the distressed barge at around 2 am on Saturday.
Preliminary investigation revealed that the level in the sludge tank, located three decks down in the barge, had increased. Yogesh Bhosale, the engine driver of the barge told mid-day that a crew member, Jayant Chaudhary (33), had entered it to fit the de-flooding pump, but he fell unconscious due to the poisonous gas inside. Subsequently, three crew members including captain, Dawood Ibrahim Kurey (50), Mangesh Bhosale (27), KT Sons (27) entered the room to evacuate the unconscious, but the poisonous gas got to them, too.
Officials from CISF, Mumbai Police and Mumbai Port Trust rushed the crew to Bombay Hospital in an ambulance. Kurey is currently in the ICU. ORION II, owned by Gautam Khurana's Pacific Navigation, was later taken to Mumbai harbour on Saturday morning. "We will investigate if negligence led to the incident. As of now, only accidental death reports (ADRs) have been registered," said a police officer from the Malabar Hill police station.