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Cylone Nilam: 15 sailors rescued, 6 still missing

Agencies  Chennai, November 01, 2012
First Published: 12:14 IST(1/11/2012) | Last Updated: 14:58 IST(1/11/2012)

The 15 crew members aboard oil tanker Pratibha Cauvery that ran aground in Chennai as cyclone Nilam hit Tamil Nadu coast on Wednesday afternoon, were rescued early Thursday by Indian Coast Guard, an official said.

"Fifteen members on the ship were rescued today (Thursday) morning," a Coast Guard official said.

However, the whereabouts of six crew members of the Japanese-built ship were not known, said an official of the Mumbai-based Pratibha Shipping.

Anchored in Bay of Bengal near the Chennai Port, Pratibha Cauvery with 37 crew members started drifting towards the shore due to strong winds Wednesday. Cyclone Nilam was set to cross the coast between Mamallapuram and Kalpakkam Wednesday evening.

The ship ran aground Wednesday afternoon at the Elliots Beach or Besant Nagar beach, following which 22 members of the tanker clambered into a life boat, officials of Indian Coast Guard and the Chennai Port Trust said.

Hit by rogue waves, the boat capsized and six people went missing. Local fishermen in their country boats rescued 16 of the crew members who were holding on to the boat and were later admitted to hospital.

Members of Pratibha Cauvery strugggling in mid-sea to hold a life boat which got capsized due to rough sea caused by Cyclone Nilam, near Elliotts Beach in Chennai. PTI Photo

"Sixteen people were brought in Chennai, of whom one was brought dead. Three people are in the intensive care unit (ICU)," said S. Narasimhan, senior executive-patient care at the Fortis Malar Hospital.

The cyclone had maximum winds of 75 kph (45 mph) after landfall but had weakened to a tropical depression. A storm surge of up to 1.5 meters (5 feet) was forecast to flood low-lying coastal areas, the India Meteorological Department said.

Indian Coast Guards lead crew members to safety on a rescue mission on the ship Pratibha Cauvery which ran aground due to strong winds on the Bay of Bengal coast, off Chennai. AP Photo

Power supply was disrupted to parts of Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu.

Heavy to very heavy rain expected, and fishermen were asked to stay at shore.

State authorities turned 282 schools into relief centers in Chennai and the city's port halted cargo operations. Twenty-three ships were moved to safer areas.

About 150,000 people were moved to shelters in Nellore, district official B Sridhar said.



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