The Indian Navy is hunting for 80 missing people at sea after the devastating cyclone

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© Reuters. Front line workers help people cross a flooded road after cyclone Tauktae caused heavy rains in Mumbai, India on May 17, 2021. REUTERS / Francis Mascarenhas

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From Sumit Khanna

AHMEDABAD, India (Reuters) – The Indian Navy on Tuesday carried out a massive air and sea rescue mission for 81 missing oil workers and crew members whose barge sank in heavy seas after a severe cyclone that tore the country’s west coast the day before.

Around 180 people on board the launch were rescued from the water when it sank off Mumbai. Efforts had begun to move the crew, who was stuck on a second barge that was driven aground by the storm, the Navy said.

“There are waves 20 to 25 feet, the winds are strong and visibility is poor,” said Navy spokesman Vivek Madhwal. “Ships and planes were used for the search and rescue mission.”

Cyclone Tauktae, the strongest storm to hit the west coast in two decades, tore up electricity pylons and trees and caused house collapses, killing at least 19 people.

The storm landed in Gujarat state, adding pressure at a time when India is grappling with a staggering spike in coronavirus cases and deaths, and a lack of beds and oxygen in hospitals.

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