They got caught at sea in a cyclone, lost all belongings, including their clothes, swam for over 12 hours and lived to tell the tale.
Eighteen fishermen from Tamil Nadu arrived in Chennai on Friday after a protracted battle with cyclone Phailin in Odisha.
The fishermen left the coast on September 22 and were to return on October 10, when the cyclone struck.
“On October 12, around 4 p.m., two boats in which we sailed broke and began to sink in the heavy tides. The waves were as high as 25 feet. For nearly 10 km, we struggled to float on gas cylinders and water cans. By the time we reached the shores, we had lost everything, including the clothes we wore,” said 29-year-old Joy Mohan from Kanyakumari district.
Johny (25) who has been fishing for the past 10 years said he had never witnessed such terrible times at sea. “After hours of swimming, we reached an island, crossed a river and then with the help of some locals, contacted our relatives back home. We didn’t eat for three days and could hardly swim or float. It is a miracle we survived,” he said.
After the fishermen reached the shore, they contacted their families who in turn sought the help of the Tamil Nadu government. The fishermen were administered first aid and flown to Delhi where medical treatment was provided.
“The government has helped us a lot, but we need more assistance because the fishermen have lost everything due to the cyclone. Their families are out on the streets now. They desperately need some financial aid from the government,” said P. Justin Antony of Tamil Nadu Fisheries Development Trust.
The fishermen want to seek help from Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and plan to meet with her on Thursday morning.