Two others rescued from sea; fishermen associations call for action against vessel

T. Anandan (45), a fisherman from Tiruvottiyur Kuppam, went missing in the sea in the early hours of Saturday after the boat he was in was hit by a ship. The small fibre reinforced plastic boat was cut in half and two others — R. Viji (30) and S. Santhosh (19) — swam around for two hours before they were rescued by another fishing boat.

“We left the shore at 3 a.m. and around 4.30 a.m., our engine stalled. When we were trying to repair it, the ship suddenly came upon us and we had no time to move. It all happened very quickly. I called out Anandan anna’s name and when I heard a voice, swam towards it to find Santhosh. Somehow, we managed to float,” said a distraught Viji. Santosh and Viji said the ship was on its way to Chennai Port.

The duo was rescued around 6.30 a.m. by a boat that had gone out to sea. They searched for Anandan till 1.30 p.m. “We were out to catch the flying kola fish. He was wearing a black t-shirt, white shorts, a cap and a lungi,” said Santhosh.

Anandan has two daughters and a son. Nandini, his younger daughter, had helped him get ready last night. “He asked me to take care of our mother as she was unwell,” she recalled.

The rescue missions suffered a set-back as the fishermen were unable to make calls from the sea. “We had no signal and therefore could not and alert our friends on shore,” said Viji. Only after the two returned did the word spread and a massive search was launched by the fisherfolk. Around 200 men in 50 boats scoured the area. But they were only able to retrieve a portion of the boat.

Fishermen said that mobile phones fall silent near Chennai Port, MGR Samadhi and the Light House as these areas are not covered by the telecom towers. “Signal is available only upto a distance of 5 km into the sea,” said Kuppan, a fisherman.

Fishing Harbour police have registered a man missing case. The police are likely to inform Coast Guard officials, who in turn will launch a search operation.

Fishermen associations called upon the police to take action against the errant ship that ran into the boat.

“The ship did not even bother to stop and help the fishermen. Two years ago, a similar incident took place. Three fishermen went missing but no action has been taken so far,” said M. D. Dayalan of Indian Fishermen Association.

Ko. Su. Mani of Tamil Nadu Meenavar Makkal Sangam said that action must be taken against the owner of the ship. He also sought compensation for the owner of the boat. Nanjil Ravi of the Akila Indiya Meenavar Sangam said that the family must be provided some kind of interim relief.

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