Fourteen Indian fishermen — nine from Kerala, and five from Tamil Nadu — who were stranded on the Solomon Islands in British Indian Ocean Territory, were rescued by a British offshore vessel, officials said in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday, 2 January.
The group set out for fishing on 27 November, 2022, on the boat Chrisha Mol owned by a person named Varghese Raj, who is a resident of Eraviputhenthurai in the Kannyiakumari district of Tamil Nadu.
The engine of the boat with nine from Kerala — Juza (41), Augustine (50), Edison (44), Sebastian (56), Ignatius (44), Martin (44), Biju Joseph (46), Lin Joseph (52), and George (43) — and five people from Tamil Nadu — Titus (43), Anthony Dasan (45), Biju (36), Anthony (48), Chinnayyan (36) — was damaged on 4 December.
At a time when the anchor of their boat was almost totally damaged due to adverse weather, they towed the boat to nearby land and got it anchored with the help of Sri Lankan fishermen.
But due to inclement weather, fishermen were not able to remain in the boat and took their dinghy and reached Ile Anglaise, Solomon Islands (British Indian Ocean Territory 5 degrees South of the Equator), the officials said.
They stayed on the uninhabited island for many days with no source of food except some leftover rice cooked in saltwater.
OSV Grampian Endurance to the rescue
The fisherman, who after a point of time lost hope of survival, spotted OSV Grampian Endurance, a multipurpose offshore vessel currently sailing under the flag of the United Kingdom (UK), and managed to draw its attention.
The stranded fishermen were sighted by the offshore support vessel from the island located in the Indian Ocean. They were rescued and brought near the Indian coast on Monday morning.
The fishermen were handed over to the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) off the Tamil Nadu coast on Monday, they said.
When the British vessel passed off Tamil Nadu’s Colachel coast, the Indian fishermen were handed over to the Indian Coast Guard Ship C-441.
The ICG ship met OSV Grampian 15 nautical miles away from Colachel and took all fishermen onboard safely.
After entering Vizhinjam harbour, all 14 fishermen were taken to the medical room at Coast Guard Station Vizhinjam, they said.
The fishermen are healthy, and they have been handed over to the coastal police in Vizhinjam for further action.
(With PTI inputs)