Kolkata: Five Indian fishermen died and 20 are still reported missing after their fishing boats which had drifted away into Bangladeshi waters during a cyclonic storm capsized in the rough seas, officials said today,
According to the Indian Coast Guard, which is conducting search and rescue operations jointly with the Bangladesh Coast Guard, fishing boat 'Mahagauri' with 17 crew members had drifted across the international maritime boundary line (IMBL) and capsized.
One crew of the capsized boat Anup Das was rescued by a Bangladeshi fishing boat and handed over to an Indian fishing boat near the IMBL.
Five bodies were found from near the capsized boat which has been found south of Heron Point in Bangladeshi waters, officials said.
The boat is in upside down position and is being towed to the nearest landing point where it will be turned to check for any more bodies trapped within.
In the meantime, another fisherman Nirmal Jana has been rescued while ten fishermen of the boat are still untraceable.
Another fishing boat Prosenjit, also feared to have been capsized in the rough seas, is still missing. It is estimated that there might be around ten fishermen in it, officials said.
Inspector General K R Nautiyal, Coast Guard Commander (north east) said, "each life at sea is precious to us and our assets will comb the area for survivors".
South 24 Parganas District Magistrate P B Salim told PTI that on the intervening night between August 7 and August 8 about 200 trawlers from the district had ventured to the high seas and eight of them went missing in the cyclonic storm.
Later on six of them were found to be safe.
"A joint search and rescue mission is being undertaken by Indian Coast Guard and Bangladeshi Coast Guard within Bangladeshi waters. BNS Amin and BNS Sangu are the two Bangladeshi ships that have joined the operation. Indian coast guard ship Sarojini Naidu is in the area and is being joined by Coast Guard Ship Rajkiran shortly," Coast Guard officials said.
Joint aerial surveillance by Indian coast guard Dornier aircrafts and maritime patrol aircrafts of Bangladeshi coast guard is in progress.