KOLKATA(PTI): Five fishermen from the Sundarbans in West Bengal, who went missing following the August 8 cyclonic storm and heavy rains in deep sea, have been found dead while 15 of them were rescued in a joint operation by the Indian Coast Guard and Bangladeshi Navy. Another 10 are still missing in the Bay of Bengal operations are on for rescuing them, officials said today.
Five fishermen who were in ‘FB (fishing boat) Mahagouri’, which is feared to have been capsized in the high sea, were found dead by the Coast Guard while two of them have been rescued, Coast Guard officials said. “The other boat ‘FB Prosenjit’ has been located along the international waters and 13 fishermen have been found to be safe,” South 24 Parganas District Magistrate P B Salim told PTI.
Two Indian fishing boats had drifted to the Bangladesh side and Indian Coast Guard and the Bangladeshi navy are conducting a joint operation for rescuing them. On the intervening night between August 7 and August 8 about 200 trawlers from South 24 Parganas had ventured to the high seas and eight of them went missing in the cyclonic storm, Salim said.
“Team from the Coast Guard, district rescue teams and the fishermen associations are running a search and rescue operations and we could find six trawlers to be safe,” he said.
The Bangladeshi naval ships and Indian Coast Guard ships along with a Dornier aircraft are doing a joint search and rescue operation constantly. “Most of the operations are now going on near the International Maritime Boundary Line area,” a Coast Guard official said.
One fisherman was rescued and bodies of five others were found floating in the Bay of Bengal this morning about 130 km off Jambudwip in the Sundarbans, West Bengal Fishermen Association chairman Joykrishna Haldar said. Another six fishermen were rescued by Bangladesh coastal police and handed over to the Association last night near Kendo near the maritime boundary with Bangladesh, he said.
Halder and the Association secretary Bijon Maiti claimed the fishermen were among the 30 who went missing after going out in four trawlers and the Association had launched an independent search using ten trawlers.
The rescued fisherman, who was identified as Nirmal Jana, was found floating in a life jacket, they said adding the five bodies were brought to the hospital here by the Association.’Coast Guard had earlier rescued over 250 fishermen in 18 fishing trawlers in one of the biggest search and rescue operations in the Bay of Bengal.
The fishermen had ventured out to catch Hilsa in the sea on August one. “We have been saying that four more trawlers with 30 fishermen are still missing. Had the search been conducted by us and Coast Guard together we could have provided timely help,” Halder and Maiti said. Two of the four missing trawlers have been identified as ‘FB(fishing boat) Mahagouri’ and ‘FB Pallabi’, he said.
Three of the fishermen whose bodies were found on Sunday had gone out to the sea in ‘FB Mahagouri’. Another body was identified as that of the ‘sareng’ (the main fisherman) Haripada Das of ‘FB Pallabi’. All the four hailed from Kakdwip.The person who was rescued was a fisherman in ‘FB Mahagouri’.
Sundarbans development minister Manturam Pakhira said Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has announced Rs 2 lakh ex gratia to the kin of each of the five dead fishermen. The government, she said, will pay for the treatment of the rescued fishermen.
In Dhaka, a Navy spokesman said that Bangladesh overnight launched a massive rescue campaign deploying navy and coast guards look for missing Indian fishermen in the coastlines after an Indian fishing boat sank at the coastlines of the Sundarbans.
“We have joined salvage campaign late yesterday night deploying a patrol aircraft and two navy ships BNS Sangu and BNS SA Amin… the (Bangladesh) coast guard also are with us with three hi-speed boats in the bay for the missing fishermen,” the spokesman told PTI.
The spokesman said the boat sank in the Bay of Bengal with 17 fishermen onboard just 40 nautical miles north of Bangladesh’s Hiron Point of the Sundarbans on Saturday.