Chennai, Oct 8 (IANS) Eight out of the nine fishermen from here returned home on Thursday ending their ordeal of drifting on the sea for about 55 days before being rescued by the Myanmar Coast Guard.
In total they were away from their homes for about 70 days – 55 days on the high seas and the remaining in Myanmar after being rescued by that country’s Coast Guard.
The eight fishermen were received at the airport by Fisheries Minister D. Jayakumar and were given a warm welcome. Jayakumar presented the fishermen with shawls and bouquets.
The eight fishermen arrived in Delhi from Myanmar on Wednesday and then reached here on Thursday much to the relief of their family members.
On July 27, the nine fishermen left the Kasimedu harbour here. Soon after that their boat developed technical problems and started drifting towards Myanmar owing to the weather.
They also lost communication links with the shore and drifted on the seas for over 50 days.
On September 14, the nine were rescued by the Myanmar Coast Guard.
Jayakumar said the state government had written to the Centre and also to the neighbouring states requesting for information about the missing fishermen.
He said the Myanmar Coast Guard rescued the fishermen and took them to safety while the Indian High Commission in that country was informed.
Unfortunately, one fisherman died after falling into the sea while repairing the boat.
“The dead fisherman is Babu and has two schoolgoing children. He was the only breadwinner and the family is now adrift. Fisheries Minister Jayakumar should see to it that the family gets some assistance from the government – a suitable government job for Babu’s wife or some financial compensation,” K. Bharathi, president of the South Indian Fishermen Welfare Association, told IANS.
According to one of the returning fishermen, their provisions lasted for about 28 days and thereafter they survived on some fish they managed to catch.
They had switched off their boat after casting their net. However, they were not able to restart the boat and it started drifting.
Bharathi said they had planned to return back to shore in 10-15 days. Though they lost contact soon after they left the Chennai shores, the families were waiting for their return.
Bharathi said the boat seems to be lost and the government should also offer some compensation to the boat owner.