THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Fifteen more fishermen — mostly Keralites — were found in the sea off Kozhikode coast on Thursday morning by an IAF recee on a mission to trace fishermen who went missing due to Cyclone Ockhi.
An Antonov An-32 transport plane, which lifted off from the Southern Air Command's (SAC) air station at Shangumugham, found two fishing boats drifting 134 nautical miles off Kozhikode. The boats were identified as 'Abraham' and 'Thiruchelvi' which left Kanyakumari before Cyclone Ockhi struck.
An IAF officer said here, ''The fishermen, however, did not want to be airlifted out but requested that food and water be dropped to them. So we despatched another An-32 aircraft and a Mi-17 helicopter to the area to supply food and water.''
The location was traced 240 nautical miles from Thiruvananthapuram and 134 nautical miles from Kozhikode. IAF had undertaken the special recce missions on Wednesday after fishermen from Kanyakumari had placed a request to the SAC through the Tamil Nadu chief secretary.
The encouraging news from the IAF followed a report that two more dead bodies had been recovered by search and rescue teams from the sea. On Wednesday, the government had put the number of men still missing in the sea at 96. However, the Latin Archdiocese of Thiruvananthapuram had claimed on Tuesday that 201 men were still missing, including 108 men who had gone out in small boats.