Coast Guard rescues labourer stuck on barge for 26 hours near Vasai
The Coast Guard on Friday rescued a labourer, Rafique Shaikh (30), after the barge on which he had fallen asleep – Hiradevi-- hit rocky surfaces when its anchor broke, around 3 nautical miles (roughly 5.4 km) off the Arnalapada lighthouse, near the Bhuigaon coast in Vasai on Thursday.
The labourer was stuck onboard for nearly 26 hours and was asleep on the barge when it drifted out to sea. He was alone as the pilot had left the barge to have his dinner.
On Friday morning, the Coast Guard reached the spot in a chopper and rescued Shaikh. They checked his documents which he had in a black bag and found them in order. They took him to the Bhuigaon coast where the Vasai Gaon police whisked him away for questioning. The MBVV police had sought the help of the Coast Guard who also did an aerial survey on Thursday evening but due to bad weather the rescue operation had to be done on Friday.
The barge belongs to Akhtar Kalokhe of Uttan. The Mira Bhayander Vasai Virar (MBVV) Commissionerate will question Kalokhe as well as Shaikh as the duo did not inform the MBVV police although Shaikh was in touch with Kalokhe over the phone. It led to a security scare too as the CG, MBVV and the Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB) were also put on alert, said Sanjaykumar Patil, DCP, Zone II, MBVV.
“We will take necessary action in the matter. The labourer had also unfurled a black flag onboard and the barge had no markings like the Indian national flag or other identification marks which threw the agencies into a tizzy,” he said.
The 6 cylinder barge weighing 8 tonnes belonged to Rajendra Gulab Patil of Kalwa, Thane earlier. He had sold it to Kalokhe about two months ago for ₹26 lakh and the transfer papers were still pending, Patil said. The barge was used to ferry stones, sand, building material and also to transport construction workers.