250 TN fishermen missing

Massive search on for trawlers by Coast Guard ships and helicopters


Fishermen from five hamlets from the district, bordering Kerala, who often venture into the sea in mechanised boats and trawlers northwards towards Kochi, Mangalore, Goa and even up to Porbandar in Gujarat for a good catch, are now feared trapped by the cyclonic effect, official sources in Kanniyakumari told Deccan Herald on Friday.

Details are still sketchy, but wives and other relatives of the missing fishermen reported to District Collector Rajendra Ratnoo that they have not received any communication from their bread-winners for several days now.

Initially, 75 mechanised boats were said to have lost contact, but now the figure has come down to 26 in which at least 250 fishermen were in mid-sea, sources said.

Joint operation

The fishing hamlets from where fisherfolk take up joint operations with trawlers from neighbouring Kerala are Marthandam Thurai, Chinna Thurai, Valla Vilai, Thoothoor and Poothurai, the sources said. It was possible that to avoid the cyclonic path these trawlers now said to be missing might have gone to the deep sea areas, strayed away and lost contact temporarily, Ratnoo, said. The collector immediately got in touch with the Coast Guard officials in Kochi, Mangalore and Mumbai, besides the “Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre” in Mumbai, to help trace these mechanised boats and their crew.

A massive search is on for the remaining trawlers by three Coast Guard Ships and two of its helicopters, the sources said. A pall of gloom descended on those fishing hamlets this evening. Ratnoo personally visited each of them to reassure the fishermen's relatives and the steps taken to establish contact with the missing trawlers.

Survival chances of Goan fishermen dim

At least 68 fishermen have gone missing in the wake of cyclonic conditions along coastal Goa, reports DHNS from Panaji quoting Chief Minister Digambar Kamat.
Their chances of survival, 72 hours after Cyclone Phyan crossed the Arabian Sea, appeared bleak. Two of four missing trawlers are feared to have capsized, Kamat told journalists and announced a compensation of Rs 1 lakh to the next of kin of those lost out at sea. He said the Coast Guard is still searching for the fishermen who have been missing since Tuesday.

The government said a cyclone warning had been issued well in advance, but many trawlers and canoes had already been out at sea for some days when the warning for Cyclone Phyan came. “Most of them were returning to the coast when the cyclone hit the sea,” Fisheries Minister Joaquim Alemao said.

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