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3 die as ship rams boat off Kerala

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Three persons were killed and nine went missing in yet another mid-sea collision off the Kerala coast, when a merchant vessel rammed a fishing boat around 3.30 a.m. on Tuesday.

The fishing vessel Oceanic, owned by Sambasivan of Munambam, was hit by an unidentified vessel, 27 nautical miles north-west off Chettuva barmouth in Thrissur. The dead were identified as Yuganathan, 43, Manikodi, 50, and Yakob, 57, natives of Colachel and Ramanthurai in Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu.

Two fishermen, Edwin, 42, of Colachel and Narain Sarkar, 43, of Kolkata, rescued after the accident were admitted to the Government General Hospital in Ernakulam. While Narain Sarkar reportedly developed complications after ingesting water mixed with fuel, Edwin, driver of the fishing boat, suffered a fracture in the hand.

Of the 14 men aboard, 11 were from Tamil Nadu, two from West Bengal, and one from Kerala. The boat was operating from the Munambam harbour. Navy and Coast Guard vessels along with 50-odd fishing vessels were searching for the missing fisherman. The Coastal police in Fort Kochi are in the process of identifying the missing persons.

Edwin, in a statement, told the Munambam sub-inspector that those on board except him were sleeping. “The ship rammed the boat on the rear, breaking it throwing the fishermen into the sea. The vessel made a brief halt and resumed journey without bothering to undertake any rescue operations. The duo stayed afloat for about four hours before being rescued,” the sub-inspector said. The Coastal police registered a case under IPC 304 (a) for causing death by negligence, 280 for rash navigation of vessel, and other relevant sections including IPC 337 and 338. Following the accident, a Coastal police team rushed to the spot on a fishing vessel but had to return halfway due to rough sea conditions

Preliminary investigations suggested that the merchant vessel in question was the Indian-registered oil tanker MV Desh Shakti. The officials, however, maintained that further investigation would be required for a confirmation. “The ship was present in the area around the time when the collision was reported and the details given by the boat crew also point to its involvement in the accident. The details have been handed over to the Coast Guard, Navy, and the Mercantile Marine Department (MMD) ,” said an officer with the Coastal Police station, Fort Kochi.

The MMD has identified four vessels plying in the area during the time of the accident. “The accident occurred beyond the territorial waters and there were four vessels at the location that time. The ship involved in the collision is yet to be identified,” an MMD official said.

Source: The Hindu

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