Kochi: The 22 crew members of the Maldivian cargo vessel which sank off Lakshadweep coast were on Friday brought here as they recounted the nearly two days of mid-sea ordeal before the Indian Coast Guard rescued them in a tough operation in inclement weather.
The crew, including four Indians, of Male-bound "MV Asian Express" were rescued by the Coast Guard ship `Varuna` on June 12 night after the ageing vessel started sinking.
Ship Captain Ahamed Shakeer told reporters here that the 35-year-old vessel, on one of its last voyages, suffered an engine problem and drifted for two days as the weather in the area was extremely hostile with rough sea and strong winds.
The vessel, coming from Pakistani port of Mohammed Bin Qasim, was positioned about 50 km north off Minicoy island with 5,955 gross tonnage of cargo comprising sand and cement when it developed the engine problem.
The first information about the vessel was passed on by a Naval ship. Immediately the Coast Guard vessel `Varuna` was diverted to the area, its Captain Commander Arun Kumar said.
By then, the vessel had developed a 3-4 inches vertical crack on the starboard below the waterline. The Master and crew were unable to control the flooding and decided to abandon the vessel.
Soon, the Coast Guard rescued the crew in an operation lasting 3-4 hours braving the inclement weather and rough sea. The rescue was carried out in two batches, Kumar said.
Two of the Indian crew hail from Himachal Pradesh and the others from Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab.
Coast Guard DIG Commander T K S Chandran was also present.