Rescue came when we lost hope, say fishermen
Their faces lit up with joy as the green fishing boat ‘All Mighty God’, approached Kochi harbour. It was 4.45 pm on Wednesday when the fishing boat which had been drifting in deep sea 50 nautical miles off Kochi coast with 12 fishermen on board, docked at the harbour.
KOCHI: Their faces lit up with joy as the green fishing boat ‘All Mighty God’, approached Kochi harbour. It was 4.45 pm on Wednesday when the fishing boat which had been drifting in deep sea 50 nautical miles off Kochi coast with 12 fishermen on board, docked at the harbour. For the past six days – from November 30 to December 5 – the boat and its occupants had been drifting in deep sea. The fishermen had run out of food and water by December 2 and spent the past three days on empty stomachs. They fought the roaring waves, the blazing sun, the thunderstorm, the gusty winds, the hunger and the thirst.
The water enveloping them stretched till the horizon. There was no help at hand. After cyclone Ockhi struck on the night of November 29, the men had lost everything: nets, fishing gear and safety equipment. They survived six days fighting the turbulent sea. Finally help came early Wednesday morning when ‘Abhinav’ a Coast Guard ship located the boat and escorted them to Kochi harbour. Among the 12 rescued fishermen, 10 are from Tamil Nadu, while the other two are from Assam and West Bengal.
“I have been fishing for more than 20 years. But I never saw such violent waves. The water was swirling and waves were threatening to drown us. We had lost hope. It is the grace of almighty that saved us,” said Jose, 41, a native of Chinnathurai in Tamil Nadu.
30 boats still stranded
Jose said there were other boats stranded in mid-sea and the Navy and Coast Guard should intensify search operations to find them. “Around 30 boats from Poothurai, Kuhithurai, Marthandom, Vallavilai and surrounding areas are missing. One boat – All Saints – has gone missing. “We waited for help for days altogether. The Coast Guard and the Navy say they are scouring the sea to save the fishermen, but we didn’t see any ship or aircraft for the past three days. Our men can survive the turbulent sea. There are incidents of people returning after 20 days. The search operation should be intensified,” said Jose.
He thanked the 35-member crew of ‘Abhinav’ led by Commandant J G Mohsin Khan for rescuing them. Sinu, 28; Douglas, 45; Antony, 35; Lawrence, 45; Josepin, 43; Arul Das, 37, Nishanth, 19; Jerry, 19; Raj, 45, all from Vallavilai; Gopal, 21, West Bengal and Ismail, 28, Assam are the other fishermen who were on board ‘All Mighty God.’