Chennai: Search operations were intensified on Thursday to trace five missing crew of an oil tanker that ran aground off a city beach hours before the landfall of cyclone ‘Nilam’ that swept through the northern parts of Tamil Nadu.
Coast Guard this morning rescued 15 sailors, who were stranded onboard the tanker `Pratibha Cauvery` that drifted in high velocity winds before it ran aground near the Eliotts Beach in South Chennai yesterday.
Four ships, two helicopters and two Dornier aircraft have been pressed into service to locate the five missing seamen, Shipping Minister GK Vasan told reporters after visiting the ship.
The five sailors went missing after their life boat capsized in choppy waters while 16 were rescued by local fishermen and one drowned. The ship had a crew of 37 on board.
Coast Guard Deputy Inspector General Kurdeep Singh said Coast Guard vessels, including "Varuna" and "Rajshri", were involved in the rescue operations.
Chennai Port Trust Chairman Atulya Mishra announced that the DG Shipping would investigate the incident which occurred after the ship was asked to move to the high sea on October 30 as a precautionary measure in view of the cyclone.
"You know the ship had 37 people. Unfortunately, one person died. Along with the help of Coast Guard, Chennai Port Trust and Central and State Governments, the search is on for the missing five persons," Vasan said.
He said an emergency tow vehicle was on its way here from Mumbai to salvage the ship. "It is expected to reach Chennai in one or two days", he said.
To a query he said there was no possibility of any oil leakage from the 26,000 DWT tanker carrying two tonnes of high diesel and 356 tonne of furnace oil.
Vasan also visited the hospital where the rescued sailors are being treated. They might be discharged in a day or two.