VIJAYAWADA: They braved the rough seas and fought off hunger and thirst for 18 long days and night and miraculously survived the ordeal till rescued. And their joy knew no bounds when reunited with their family members and other near and dear ones on being brought to Vijayawada station on Monday.
This is the saga of six fishermen two from Machilipatnam, three from Nellore district and one from Prakasam district who had gone missing since June 17, when they had gone fishing in a mechanized boat. Though the initial searches for the missing fishermen had proved futile, the Coast Guard refused to give up and its Dornier aircraft during one of sorties over the open sea located the boat and the fishermen and alerted a Coast Guard ship which then rescued them two days back. The rescue operation took place 165 nautical miles (400 km) south of Haldia port in West Bengal.
On Monday, it was celebration time at Gilakaladindi village in Machilipatnam mandal of Krishna district, the native village of 27-year-old T Nagaraju and 40-year-old S Nagoor. Both the fishermen were welcomed by their family members and villagers, with tears of joy and broad smiles. “I thank God for giving us a new lease of life. If not for Him, we would not have been here”, said Nagaraju and Nagoor.
Recounting their nightmarish experience, they said they did not wish even their enemies to suffer such an ordeal.
“We put out to the sea on June 18 from Gilakaladindi and for two days we fished around. On the third day, our boat’s engine went silent and the GPS went dead. At the same time, the wind speed picked up with storm hovering over the horizon. We started drifting with no sense of direction. It was a nightmare,” said Katanguri Chitti Babu, a 35-year old fisherman from Chinna Ramudu Palem village of Kavali mandal in Nellore district. He was one of the three fishermen from the Nellore district, who was on the board the fishing vessel, when it had drifted deep into the sea.