40 boats gutted in Visakhapatnam fishing harbour fire, loss over ₹30 crore
While the fire has been successfully brought under control, the cause is yet to be ascertained. Foul play not ruled out
Hyderabad: More than 40 mechanised boats were gutted when a massive fire broke out in the fishing harbour of Andhra Pradesh’s Visakhapatnam early on Monday, police said.
The fire erupted in one of the boats harboured at a jetty around midnight, triggering in an explosion of its diesel engine. Soon, the fire spread to adjacent boats and the entire Viskahapatnam fishing harbour was engulfed inthe blaze.
A group of fishermen present at the harbour raised an alarm and alerted the police. “Soon after coming to know about the fire mishap, the police rushed there along with three fire tenders, followed by another three fire tenders to extinguish the fire. Around 40 boats were reduced to ashes,” Deputy Commissioner of Police, Visakhapatnam, K Anand Reddy told reporters.
He said the while the fire has been successfully brought under control, the cause is yet to be ascertained. “No casualties or injuries were reported in the incident. The Visakhapatnam police registered a case of accident and are investigating the case,” the DCP said.
Local fishermen did not rule out foul play, suspecting that unknown individuals might have intentionally set the boats on fire. “All the fishing boats, which had gone into the sea for fishing three days ago, returned to the harbour on Sunday evening. Even before the unloading stock, the fire mishap took place,” Andhra Pradesh Mechanised Boat Owners’ Association president Vasupalli Janakiram said.
He said each boat was holding captured fish worth ₹5 lakh to ₹6 lakh and it would have been sold through auction starting Monday. “The fire broke out all of sudden in one of the boats and it spread to the adjacent boats within minutes. The heavy sea breeze added to the intensity of flames,” Janakiram said.
According to the local fishermen, the loss could amount to around ₹30 crore. “Luckily, all the fishermen disembarked from the boats by night to go back to their houses. So, there are no casualties. But they lost their livelihood due to complete gutting of boats, nets and fish,” Janakiram said.
Expressing shock over the incident at Visakhapatnam fishing harbour, chief minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy directed that the authorities conduct an in-depth inquiry into the cause of accident. He asked fisheries minister Seediri Appala Raju to visit the spot to get the first-hand information.
“The chief minister said the government would stand by the fishermen who lost their livelihood and directed that the authorities extend all possible assistance to them,” an official release from the chief minister’s office said.
Telugu Desam Party general secretary Nara Lokesh and state unit president K Atchannaidu, in separate statements, expressed anguish over the fire mishap.
“The government should provide new mechanised boats to all those who suffered losses and take necessary steps to prevent recurrence of such incidents,” Lokesh said in a statement.