Five crew members of a Sri Lankan fishing boat were rescued by the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) near Andhra Pradesh coast, more than three weeks after they lost communication with their vessel owner, officials said here on Saturday.

The coast guard launched a search and rescue operation to locate the fishermen following a request from Sri Lankan Deputy High Commission here and sighted the boat ‘Pearl Ishara-3’ yesterday, 41 nautical miles off Kalingapatnam, an ICG release said.

The boat had left Dondra fishing harbour in Matara Distict of Sri Lanka on May 6 and had lost communication with the boat owner since May 23.

After the ICG Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre here initiated a coordinated search, involving ships and aircraft of the coast guard, the boat was found by its ship ‘Sagar’.

The boat was safely towed to Vishakhapatnam and the crew would be repatriated after the completion of formalities, the release said but did not mention why the boat crew lost communication and drifted to Indian waters.