Eighteen fishermen of Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu, who sailed out of the Odisha coast for deep-sea fishing, are feared missing, police sources said on Saturday. Of the three mechanised boats that entered the sea some 20 days ago, only one returned on Friday evening.

As cyclone Phailin swept along the Odisha and Andhra Pradesh coast on Saturday evening, coastal security agencies launched an operation to rescue the fishermen. Rough weather conditions were hampering the operation, sources in the intelligence agencies said. “A ship has been deployed to rescue the fishermen. There is no information yet on their status. We are coordinating with the Coast Guard in Kolkata,” Inspector-General and Commander Coast Guard (Region-East) Satya Prakash Sharma told The Hindu. The fishermen belonged to the villages of Mel Midalam and Enaya Puthanthurai in Kanyakumari district.

They were staying at the Astharanga fishing base in Odisha.

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