Five Indian fishermen died and 20 were reported missing after their boats, which had drifted away into Bangladeshi waters during a cyclonic storm, capsized in the rough seas, officials said on Sunday.
According to the Indian Coast Guard, which is conducting search and rescue operations jointly with the Bangladesh Coast Guard, the fishing boat ‘Mahagauri’ with its 17 crew members had drifted across the international maritime boundary line (IMBL) and capsized.
South 24 Parganas district magistrate PB Salim told PTI that on the intervening night of August 7 and 8, about 200 trawlers from the district had ventured to the high seas and eight of them went missing in the cyclonic storm.
Six of them were later found to be safe.
One fisherman, Anup Das, was rescued by a Bangladeshi fishing boat and handed over to an Indian fishing boat near the IMBL.
Five bodies were found from near the capsized boat, which was found south of Heron Point in Bangladeshi waters, officials said.
The boat was towed to the nearest landing point, where it will be checked for any more bodies trapped inside.
Another fishing boat named Prosenjit is also feared to have capsized in the rough seas and is still missing. One of its crew members, Nirmal Jana, was rescued while 10 others are still untraceable.
Inspector general KR Nautiyal, Coast Guard Commander (north east) said, “Each life at sea is precious to us and our assets will comb the area for survivors”.
“A joint search and rescue mission is being undertaken by Indian Coast Guard and Bangladeshi Coast Guard within Bangladeshi waters. BNS Amin and BNS Sangu are the two Bangladeshi ships that have joined the operation. Indian coast guard ship Sarojini Naidu is in the area and is being joined by Coast Guard Ship Rajkiran shortly,” an Indian Coast Guard official said.
Joint aerial surveillance by Indian Coast Guard Dornier aircrafts and maritime patrol aircrafts of Bangladesh is in progress.