KASARAGOD: A boat accident at the mouth of Keezhur harbour would have turned tragic just like on July 4 if not for a speed boat driver who audaciously rescued three fishermen.
The coastal police -- crippled by the lack of a rescue boat -- could only stand and watch. Babeesh Balakrishnan (26), the speed boat driver, swam nearly 3km in the rough sea to reach the three fishermen. He used the fuel jerry cans to make swim buoys for Abdul Rahman (40) and Munamber (42) and brought them to safety. He returned again, threw the youngest fisherman, Mohammed Ajmal (20), on his shoulder, and swam back to safety.
"My son does not swim well. That's why Babeesh got him on his shoulders," said Ahmed, father of Ajmal.
Bekal coastal police inspector Rakeesh said the sea off Keezhur in Chemnad panchayat to Thalangara in Kasaragod could be termed as the most dangerous in Kerala. This is the same place where three fishermen drowned on July 4, he said.
On July 4, a fishing boat capsized when it was nearing Keezhur harbour. Three fishermen, Karthik (19), Ratheeshan (30), and Sandeep (33) drowned. Four others, Ravi (40), Shibin (30), Manikuttan (35), and Sasi (30) swam to safety. Then, too, the coastal police stood helpless.
"We urgently need a rescue boat at Bekal coastal station," said the inspector. The station has a five-tonne speed boat which cannot be taken out when the sea is rough.
"The speed boat can ferry only three persons and will be flipped by fiery waves," he said.
The coastal police require a 12-tonne boat with a deck that can carry around 13 persons. "Only big boats will hold steady in these conditions," he said. The Department of Fisheries has such a boat stationed at Trikaripur coastal police station catering to the fishermen from Nileshwar to Madakara harbour.
On Friday, Mohammed Ajmal (20), Ashraf Bepul, and Munamber took their small fibre boat to the sea. They tried their luck at 55km off the coast but could not find any fish, said Ajmal's father Ahmed.
On Saturday, they came closer and were fishing 30km from the coast, he said.
"We don't know if they caught any fish. Sunday morning they were heading home," he said.
At 8.30 am, when they were around 3km from the coast, the rough tide flipped their boat at the mouth of the harbour, which has strong undercurrents, said Ahmed. The fishermen clung to the overturned boat for one-and-half hours.
Around 10 am, Sidique, a Keezhur resident, called Babeesh Balakrishnan of Bekal.
"He called me because I'm also a fisherman and know the sea well," Babeesh said.
On reaching Keezhur, he saw the police and other fishermen waiting by the shore. The boats of the fishermen were also small. Babeesh did not think and took the plunge into the sea. That saved the day for the fishermen. The three fishermen were admitted to a hospital with minor injuries. After a couple of hours, the other fishermen and Babeesh towed the capsized boat to the shore.