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Families of missing fishermen still hopeful

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Vijayalakshmi, wife of Mahendran, with her children at their house in Kasimedu.
Vijayalakshmi, wife of Mahendran, with her children at their house in Kasimedu.

Petlee Peter

Searches by the Coast Guard and local fishermen have been futile

CHENNAI: On May 30, boatman Mahendran (36) of MGR Nagar in Kasimedu set out to sea from the Kasimedu fishing harbour along with a crew of seven.

It is 22 days and there is no information on the eight men, whose boat is suspected to have suffered an engine breakdown mid-sea. Searches by the Coast Guard and local fishermen have been unsuccessful. But, their families are still hopeful.

Rajan (27), Jaisingh (40), Thangaraj (40) all from MGR Nagar; Babu (37) from Andhra Pradesh; Azhagar (37) from Madurai; and Nickson (38) and Dickson (36), both from Tuticorin, had gone with Mahendran for tuna fishing in a fibre boat a day after the 45-day fishing ban ended.

“The men usually contact land the very next day. In this case, there was no communication from from day one,” says V. Balaji, owner of the missing boat. Mahendran and Azhagar, who were carrying mobile phones, could not be reached.After an agonising wait till June 7, Balaji lodged a complaint with the Fishing Harbour police and the Coast Guard was alerted.

Some fear the worst as the men were carrying food and supplies that could last only a week and had few safety equipment on board. Their families, however, point that there have been cases of missing fishermen coming home after months.

“Jaisingh, who is missing, had returned only three months ago after battling the waves for 31 days with four others. They were rescued by Sri Lankan fishermen,” points out Muthukumaran, a fisherman.

According to Inspector-General SPS Basra, Commander, Coast Guard Region (East), a search operation conducted using five vessels till Sriharikota was futile. “We alerted the Indian Navy and have also sent a Safety Net Message on the missing boat to merchant ships in the Bay of Bengal.”

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