Dubai: Six Indian divers entombed in a sunken ship’s pressurised chamber had been confirmed dead after they apparently ran out of oxygen 15 miles off the Iranian port of Assaloyeh, Indian diplomats and rescuers told XPRESS.
The chamber was bolted onto a ship which sank 72 metres in rough waters off Iran on Thursday night.
A spokesperson for Dulam International, the Dubai diving company that helped in the rescue effort, has confirmed they dispatched The Providence rescue vessel, following a distress call from the owners of the Koosha 1.
The Dulam spokesperson said: “We received a call late on Thursday night … our rescue ship was about 20 hours from the site at the time.”
Underwater oil pipeline
Koosha 1, which was involved in installing an underwater oil pipeline, had 73 people on board - of whom 60 had been rescued earlier.
An official at Mumbai's Adsun Offshore, the Indian company that had employed the divers, told XPRESS they trying to repatriate the bodies.
“It’s our top priority at the moment,” said the official declining to give further details.
C.B. George, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Indian Embassy in Tehran, told XPRESS by phone that the consul general in Bander Abbas and two other officials had been rushed to the rescue site.
“They have been there since yesterday and are co-ordinating with the Iranian authorities and families of the divers.”
Fifteen rescued, seven could not be traced
“Fifteen Indians were rescued yesterday (Saturday). Seven others could not be traced in the chamber or outside. We are hearing from company sources and those involved in the rescue efforts that six of them are dead. We are awaiting a confirmation from the Iranian authorities.”
The fate of the other missing divers - five Iranians and one Ukrainian –- remains unclear.
The Indian divers were trapped inside the pressurised chamber bolted to the Koosha 1’s deck when the ship capsized.
Their oxygen supply was only believed to have lasted for two days, or until around Saturday afternoon.
“We have responded to an emergency, as anyone would do. The distress call was made when weather was very bad. When the emergency took place, we encountered four to five-metre waves; and 30 knot wind speeds,” said the spokesperson of Dulam, whose diving support vessel
The Providence is equipped with a diving vessel and saturation vessel.
An Iranian official in charge of the rescue operation was quoted by the IRNA news agency as saying that the bodies of the Indian divers have been recovered.
Koosha 1 sailed from the offshore oil rigs in the Arabian Gulf to Iran's southern Assaloyeh Port but suddenly sank 15 miles off Assaloyeh.
Located some 270km southeast of the provincial capital of Bushehr, Assaloyeh is one of the largest known natural gas fields in the world.