THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: While a pall of gloom had descended on the shores with little information forthcoming on the whereabouts of the hundreds reported missing, to spot survivors in the sea is offering a lease of life. As far out as 134 nautical miles off Kozhikode, and 240 nautical miles off Thiruvananthapuram, 15 fishermen clung on to dear life. Their fishing boats were drifting along as an IAF recce mission on Thursday morning located them, mostly Malayalees, off Kozhikode.
Despite the easy way out on offer, they refused to budge. For they could not abandon their boats - their lifelines, come what weather may. ‘‘The fishermen, however, did not want to be winched out. But wanted food and water to be air dropped,” said an IAF officer.
An Antonov AN-32 transport plane, which took off from the Southern Air Command’s (SAC) Air Station at Shangumugham here, found the boats identified as ‘Abraham’ and ‘Thiruchelvi’ which had left Kanyakumari before Cyclone Ockhi struck. “We dispatched another AN-32 aircraft and a Mi-17 helicopter to the area to supply food and water,’’ the officers said. For now, though, hope lingers with more fishermen being found alive.
Search to be extended
The search for missing fishermen will be extended to the international waters. The IAF will conduct search operations around Maldives on Friday.
Package for Chellanam
The Ernakulam district administration has prepared a comprehensive package comprising construction of a seawall and breakwater in Chellanam area.