The bodies of the two fishermen, Bernard and Cletus, who were reported missing since March 1 after a ship rammed their fishing vessel Don-1, were found on Saturday morning.

While Bernard's body was found floating 8 km off the Thirumullavaram coast, the body of Cletus was fished out from the wreckage of Don-1, which sank after the collision.

The Coastal Police said fishermen from Azheekkal reported the sighting of a body floating off the coast at 5.30 a.m. on Saturday. It was found in a highly decomposed state at 7.30 a.m. by the Coastal Police, who launched a search along with fishermen. It was brought ashore to the Kollam Port area on a fishing vessel. Bernard's relatives identified the body by the t-shirt he wore.

The body was taken to the District Hospital mortuary in a police ambulance.

Since the case in this connection has been registered with the Ambalapuzha police, a team from the station conducted the inquest process. The body was handed over to the relatives after autopsy. It was brought to Bernard's house at 2.45 p.m. The last rites were conducted at the Thoppe Saint Stephen's parish church.

A huge crowd was present at the house and the church to pay their last respects. Kollam Mayor Prasanna Earnest placed a wreath on behalf of the Corporation. Representatives of political parties and trade unions were also present.

The body of Cletus was retrieved from the wreckage of Don-1. The body was retrieved by specially skilled saturation divers of the Navy aboard diving-support vessel INS Nireekshak.

The body was brought to Thottapally by 8 p.m. and taken to the Ambalapuzha hospital for autopsy. It was handed over to his relatives after post-mortem examination. The last rites were conducted at the Kovilthottam parish church

Naval team

Special Correspondent reports from Kochi:

On March 4, a 10-member Naval clearance diving team deployed on board fast-attack craft INS Kabra recovered the body of Santosh, 28, from the wreckage of the boat lying 47 metres under the sea.

A defence media release said the Navy deployed INS Nireekshak for the mission on March 9 even as it was completing its scheduled maintenance.

“This was done based on a request from the Kerala government. The ship, with specialist diving facilities and a complement of 30 divers, had been carrying out the humanitarian mission since Friday when it reached the site. The divers were lowered in a diving cage in pairs to the bottom [of the sea] where they managed to cut through the mesh of fishing nets enveloping the boat to recover the body. [It] was found crushed against the structure in the bows of the boat. The ship and its divers were operating in deteriorating weather conditions with wind speeds up to 20 knots in the area,” said the release.

More In: Kochi | News | National | Kerala