Stuck in Water due to Cyclone ‘Ockhi’, 13 Fishermen Survived on Raw Fish & Sea Water
Mangaluru: Imagine being stuck in the middle of the sea, with no food and water- and to survive depending on raw fish and salty sea water – and that was the situation of thirteen fishermen who were stranded in the deep waters due to cyclone Ockhi. The13 fishermen who were on board Androth registered fishing boat “Barracuda” were rescued by the crew of Indian Coast Guard Ship (ICGS) Amartya amidst the raging Ockhi cyclone.
Briefing the media, DIG S S Dasila, Commander, Coast Guard, Karnataka, and Commandant Aniket Singh said that Barracuda had sailed from Kochi on November 7 with a complement of 13 crew. When the crew of ICGS Amartya patrolling off Karnataka-Kerala coast received information that fishing boat ‘Barracuda’ was on the verge of sinking, they immediately diverted to render assistance to the 13 fishermen aboard Barracuda. Amartya was on patrol in the aftermath of Cyclone Ockhi to provide search and rescue services. Amartya reached the distressed fishing boat within two hours. The master of Barracuda intimated that boat had suffered damages to its superstructure during the cyclone and its communication equipment, two support dinghies and rations were lost.
The boat was drifting without propulsion since December 3 and was in distress due to flooding. There was about 3 tonnes of water in the engine room. ICGS Amartya’s damage control party boarded Barracuda and de-flooded it. According to Coastguards, once the seawater ingress was contained using damage control plugs, ICGS Amartya personnel provided fishermen, who were exhausted, with first aid, food, water and support. As the boat’s engine had seized, ICGS Amartya towed and handed it over to another fishing boat Mary Matha along with three crew and they reached Malpe at 1.30 pm on Wednesday, 6 December.
It is also learnt that 13 fishermen aboard Barracuda crew for four days survived on raw fish and seawater as their food stock was ruined in water that had entered their boat or was lost at sea. The fishermen did not have potable water on hand when the coastguards found them. The crew managed to get in touch with their owners once they were closer to the land, who in turn informed the fisheries department officials in Malappuram and they alerted the Coast Guard. The boat’s VHF system was also down.
One of the fishermen narrating their ordeal to a newspaper reporter had said that eating raw fish and drinking sea water was their only source to survive, if not they would have died within couple of days, and we also took turns in scooping out water that had gathered inside the boat- if not the boat would have sunk and we would have been dead. Yet another fisherman said ” We continuously emptied the boat but the water was filling in quickly. But we didn’t lose hope, but tried everything that we could to survive, and left everything in the hands of God- and finally God and coast guard personal saved us”.