G. V. Ramana Rao

MACHILIPATNAM: A mobile phone call saved the lives of 71 fishermen from Uppada of East Godavari district. The fishermen, who ventured into the Bay of Bengal for fishing in 13 mechanised boats on Monday, were alerted about the cyclone only through a mobile phone call when they were in the middle of the sea on Tuesday afternoon.

As their family members alerted them about the meteorological department's bulletin that was aired through All India Radio and various television channels, the fishermen cancelled their fishing and began searching for the coast. Their search ended when they spotted the coast of Sarangapalem village of Bandar Kanuru village late on Tuesday evening.

Revenue staff help

“A few villagers told us that we were in Krishna district. We approached the local revenue staff, who helped us reach here,” Tikkada Appanna, a fisherman from Nayakar Colony of Uppada told The Hindu on Wednesday. The Krishna district administration provided shelter to them at Ambedkar Bhavan here and provided them food. The fishermen had planned to go towards Narsapuram in West Godavari district in the Bay of Bengal for fishing. Their plan was to cover the distance of about 150 km in five days and return home with their catch. The fishermen divided into small groups consisting of seven to eight members each and each group took a mechanized boat. In normal circumstances, the catch of each boat would be worth Rs. 5,000 and it would be shared by all the members of a group.

“We had a tough time in finding the coast, as it was raining heavily and our family members were making calls continuously,” recalled Kare Lakshmanna. After taking daylong shelter, the fishermen returned to their place in a special bus.

“Though we had planned to send them on Thursday, they are not willing to stay here,” said P. Prasada Rao, Tahasildar of Pedana, in-charge of the special relief camp. While 12 fishermen stayed back at Sarangapalem village to guard their boats, the remaining 59 fishermen left for Uppada.