KOCHI: A fishing boat carrying 14 persons was rammed and destroyed beyond recognition in a collision with a Panama-registered cargo vessel named Amber L at around 2.30 am Sunday off Kochi.
Two fishermen were killed in the incident out at high sea, and a third is missing.
The other 11 fishermen on the boat named Carmel Matha were rescued and admitted to Fort Kochi Taluk Hospital and Medical Trust Hospital in Kochi. The condition of two of them is critical.
The two people killed have been identified as Antony John, 55, alias Thambidurai from Colachel, Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu; and Rahul Das, 27, from Assam.
The missing person is Moti Das, 26, also from Assam. The Indian Navy and the Coast Guard team are searching for him.
The incident occurred at about 14 nautical miles from Puthuvype, Kochi. Carmel Matha had sailed out of the Thoppumpady harbour on Friday, and had dropped anchor and was fishing when the foreign vessel rammed into it.
The fishermen on board, who were sleeping at the time, were thrown overboard. They struggled for more than two hours in the deep sea. All but three of the fishermen were rescued by another boat St. Antony.
The cargo ship Amber L was passing through the Cochin Minicoy channel at the time of the accident. The ship had begun its voyage from the Eilat port in Israel.
The ship, active since 2000, weighs 25955 dwt, according to reports.
Fishermen said Amber L switched off all lights on board to flee from the site but the Coast Guard and the Indian Navy identified it and took it into custody.
Fishermen Pratheesh, 28, Nelson, 25, Antony, 24 and Kurishu Michael, 25, all from Kanyakumari district, are undergoing treatment at the Medical Trust Hospital. The condition of Nelson was serious, the hospital authorities said.
At the Fort Kochi Taluk Hospital, the condition of Ernest, 35, Navis, 34, Merlin, 36, Andrews, 42, Arso, 24, Britto,24 and Armstrong Venice, 22, also hailing from Kanyakumari district, was said to be stable and out of danger.
Kochi police commissioner M P Dinesh said a case of culpable homicide not amounting to murder has been registered against the captain of Amber L.
“A team led by DCP Yatish Chandra has left to record the statements of the crew and they would be brought to Kochi later," he added.
The Fort Kochi Coastal Police have registered a case under Sections 280 (rash navigation of vessel), 427 (mischief causing damage), 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 304 (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of IPC.
In a statement, the Indian Navy said, "A search and rescue operation has been mounted by the Indian Navy by launching one Advanced Light Helicopter and INS Kalpeni to locate the missing fisherman. The suspected vessel has been identified and concerned agencies have been notified to detain the vessel for further investigation."
The collector of Ernakulam K Mohammed Y Safirulla has asked the Cochin Port Trust to take steps to bring the capsized boat ashore, and conduct a detailed inquiry.
Fisheries Department deputy director S Mahesh said, the fishing boat Carmel Matha was registered in 2012. "We have provided all assistance to the rescued fishermen," he said.