The fishermen are being provided with food and medical assistance   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Missing Chennai fishermen rescued off Myanmar coast

The nine fishermen had left Kasimedu on July 27, and were rescued after drifting in high seas for over 50 days


After drifting in high seas for over 50 days, nine fishermen from Kasimedu were rescued by the Myanmar Coast Guard in the wee hours of Monday.

The boat owner, Balaji got a call from the captain of the rescue vessel, stating that his men and the boat were safe, at 3.30 a.m. on Monday. “I spoke to the driver. He said that the engine failed near Pulicat, north of Chennai. Though they had informed some boats in that area, help did not come and they continued to drift,” he said.

The boat, IND - TN-02-MM-2029 had left Kasimedu on July 27 and was slated to return on August 7. However, after the men failed to return, the families and the boat owner had filed a complaint with the Kasimedu police.

Pavithran, whose uncle R. Desappan, was among those rescued, said that they were celebrating the rescue of their relatives and friends. “It has come as a huge relief to us. The families were worried since the breadwinners had gone missing”" he said.

Fisheries Minister D. Jayakumar said that the State government had written to the Centre and to neighbouring States asking them for any information about the missing boat. “Now that they have been rescued, we are taking steps to bring them back home. Meanwhile, they are being provided with food and medical assistance,” he said.

M. E. Raghupathi, former president of the Kasimedu Boat Owners Association, said that usually a group of boats went for gill net fishing. But due to the pandemic this boat was caught alone. Modern safety equipment must be made mandatory in all boats. “At the moment it is optional,” he pointed out.

K. Bharathi of the South Indian Fishermen Welfare Association, said that the Indian Coast Guard had washed its hands of the search operation stating that without knowing the coordinates, the boat cannot be located. “If we knew the location, we would have ourselves gone on a rescue mission and brought them back. All the official exercises to rescue people in distress seem to be eyewash,” he claimed.

M. D. Dayalan of the Indian Fishermen Association, said that a separate wing must be set up in the department that would be responsible for making pre-departure checks of boats. “If any boat gets stuck at sea, these officials must be held responsible. They must check the fitness of all equipment on board,” he added.