NEW DELHI (AP) — Indian navy ships recovered 26 bodies of people who were aboard a barge that sank off Mumbai as the most powerful storm to hit the region in more than two decades blew ashore this week, officials said Wednesday.
The search is continuing for 49 more people who are missing after the cyclone hit Monday, navy spokesman Mehul Karnik said.
He said five ships, a surveillance aircraft and three helicopters involved in the search had rescued 186 people in rough seas with waves of up to 7 meters (25 feet).
A navy statement said 125 survivors and two bodies have arrived in Mumbai and others are expected to get there late Wednesday.
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.
Navy helicopters also provided food and water to nearly 300 crew members of a support station and drilling ship that were being towed back to Mumbai by the company’s support vessels, the statement said.
The storm has weakened into a depression centered over the south of Rajasthan state and adjoining Gujarat region, the Indian Meteorological Department said Wednesday.
In neighboring Nepal, authorities asked mountaineers to descend from high altitudes because the storm might bring severe weather.
Hundreds of climbers, guides and staff are trying to climb mountains in Nepal this month, when weather is usually the most favorable 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.