MANGALURU:A Life of Pi-like situation. Water everywhere with no land or no man in sight. Thirteen fishermen, stuck in the middle of the sea due to Cyclone Ockhi, had nowhere to go. The boat, filled with water, was slowly sinking and the foodgrains they had packed a month ago before leaving Kochi rendered useless. For four days they ate raw fish and drank sea water for survival, before Indian Coast Guard (ISG) rescued them off Malpe on Wednesday.
With sleep-deprived eyes, the fishermen recounted the horror.Thavis, a fisherman from Kanyakumari, said, “Food was not our priority, survival was. Eating raw fish was the only way we could gather strength to scoop out water from the boat which was sinking. If not, we would have died on the first or second day itself.”
The fishermen from Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Assam took turns to scoop out water even as they battled exhaustion. “We were continuously emptying the boat but the water was filling in at almost double the speed. But we did not lose hope. We kept trying everything we could to survive, leaving the rest to God. Finally, we were saved,” said Arul Das.
Boat owner Stalin said, “Our families back home had lost sleep ever since they found out that the sea had turned violent and we were out there. Now, we will go back home and sleep happily. We survived only because of God’s grace.”
ICG commandant Aniket Singh said they reached the sinking boat at the right time. “The flooding had increased and the boat was close to a rock. If it had hit the rock, it would have capsized. If we were late even by an hour, the fishermen would have been in danger.”