Mr Mohammad Rastad -Director General of the Port and Maritime Organisation of Bushehr province in Iran- has confirmed that rescue teams have found the bodies of six Indian divers aboard a support vessel that sank in bad weather off the Iranian coast. The bodies are believed to have been found in a decompression chamber bolted on to the deck of the ship; they died after their oxygen ran out. The Iranian ship carrying 73 people sank late last week in the Persian Gulf; Sixty people have been rescued, fifteen of them Indians. Latest reports on the ongoing rescue operation say that bodies of two more divers have been recovered from a depth of 72 metres, with five more divers still missing.
The Koosha-1, a dive support vessel, operating in one of the largest natural gas fields in the world in the Gulf, was heading back to port when she sank fifteen miles off the port of Assaloyeh in bad weather. Eight divers- including six Indians- were decompressing aboard after installing an underwater pipeline when the accident occurred; their bodies have now been recovered. The other divers are believed to be dead. Details are still sketchy, but it is believed that the Koosha had aboard Iranian, Ukrainian and Indian divers when she sank.
Gulfnews reports that the Indian divers were employed by Mumbai's Adsun Offshore, whose officials were quoted as saying that the repatriation of the bodies of the Indian divers was their "top priority at the moment.” The Deputy Chief of Mission at the Indian Embassy in Tehran, Mr C.B. George, has said that the Consul General and other officials at Bandar Abbas were rushed to the rescue site immediately after the incident. "They are co-ordinating with the Iranian authorities and the families of the divers,” he said.
Officials at the rescue site said that the decompression chamber that the divers were trapped in had enough oxygen supply for about two days when the Koosha sank. A spokesperson for Dulam, the company whose dive support vessel ' The Providence' responded to a distress call said, "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.” He added that 'The Providence' was twenty hours away from the Koosha when she received the distress call. As many as five vessels, three helicopters and several groups of divers are taking part in the rescue operation.
The "Koosha 1" had left the offshore oil rigs near the underwater South Pars gas field and was heading to Assaloyeh when the tragedy occurred.