Two still missing after August 25 capsize

The capital’s coastal belt is once again on the boil, this time over two fishermen who went missing on the night of August 25 and are yet to be traced.

Michael and Manuel, who had set out to sea along with another person, Antony, on Sunday night from Thumba were reported missing after their fibre boat capsized. While Antony was rescued on Tuesday, the other two are still missing.

The Kerala Swathanthra Matsya Thozhilali Federation, pointing out that this was only the latest in a series of similar accidents involving fishermen off the State’s coast, alleged that it was the lack of adequate safety and communication equipment that was increasing the number of casualties in such accidents. In the case of Manuel and Michael, the federation accused the government of inaction. No timely step was taken to trace the missing fishermen, office-bearers of the organisation said at a press conference here on Friday.

They said they would organise a mass protest if the ‘neglect’ towards the coast continued.

Alleging that radio beacons purchased for Rs.18 crore were not distributed properly among the fishermen, the federation said the promise of the State government to deploy a marine ambulance was still on paper. Demanding a package that would ensure distribution of radio beacons, wireless sets, life jackets, lifebuoys, and GPS devices to those engaged in deep sea fishing, the federation said the government should take steps to extend financial assistance to the kin of the fishermen who were missing, apart from helping them buy new boats to replace the damaged and lost ones.

District Collector K.N. Satheesh, when contacted, refuted the allegation that the government had remained inactive. The district administration and the police had responded immediately after the missing alert was received.

The Navy was alerted and two vessels of the Navy conducted searches for two days. A Dornier aircraft surveyed the seas for the missing persons the first day, and on the second day, a Navy helicopter too joined the search, he said. It was an unfortunate accident, he said, adding that the district administration would extend whatever help was required.

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