Six fishermen go missing off Mangalore coast

CLOSE SHAVE: Vincent Jeasadima helped out of a boat. DH Photo

Six fishermen went missing and one had a miraculous escape as a boat capsized in deep sea off the Mangalore coast on Thursday.

According to Vincent Jeasadima (56), the rescued fisherman, all the seven had set out for fishing in a boat on September 7. The sea turned violent on the evening of September 14 and attempts were made to anchor the boat at the New Mangalore Port. However, the request was refused by the Port authorities. With no other go, the fishermen were compelled to wait in the boat drifting in the turbulent sea.

Desperate attempts

However, by about 1.45 am, a huge wave hit the boat. Two crew members, Narayana (26) and Shiva (45), sleeping in the engine cabin woke up only to find water gushing into the boat. The rest in the boat - Bishak (25), Abdul Rehman (30), Ramanan (45) and Srikanth (55) along with Vincent tried to drain water from the boat.

The effort went in vain as they were unable to locate the crack through which water entered the trawler. The attempts to send distress alert too failed as the system was running out of battery. They later called their relatives and friends on cellphones seeking help. Finally, around 4.45 am, all the seven plunged into the violent sea and were thrown apart in a minute.

Blame

“I was fortunate enough to spot an ice box floating near me. I clung on to it till 11 am on Thursday. Then I spotted a boat at a short distance and screamed for help. In the meantime a violent wave threw me up, and people on the boat noticed my gestures for help,” Vincent said, thanking his stars. He feared that his companions might not have survived the tumultuous sea. He blamed the authorities at the New Mangalore Port Trust and Coast Guards for the incident.

Distress calls denied

Deputy Commissioner Dr N S Channappa Gowda said that neither the departments concerned nor the emergency toll number 1077 received any distress call from the fishermen. The Port authorities too said that there were no distress calls as claimed by Vincent. They also claimed that certain procedure had to be followed to allow a boat into the port.

However, Coastal Security police inspector Mukund Nayak said he received message about the incident at 5.15 am, which he immediately forwarded to the Coast Guards.

 “I am not aware in what way they responded. We immediately ventured into the sea and covered 12 nautical miles. But we could not continue the search due to turbulent waves,” he said. Nayak added that personnel have been deployed along the coast to trace the bodies, if any. Attempts to contact officials of Coast Guards went in vain.

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