Kochi: In the third successful life saving mission undertaken by it this month, the Indian Coast Guard on Monday rescued 16 Iranian and Pakistani crew of a fishing boat, abducted and later left stranded by Somali pirates about 250 nautical miles off Lakshadweep Islands.
The crew - 13 Iranians and three Pakistanis - were rescued from the boat `Al Husaini` which had been captured by Somali pirates off Socotra, a small archipelago of four islands and islets in the Indian Ocean about 240 km east of Somalia on May 16 and abandoned on June 10 after taking away food and fuel.
CG ship "Varuna" undertook the life saving mission in adverse weather conditions and the rescued men were expected to reach Kochi by tomorrow, a Coast Guard press release said.
The fishing boat had left the Kanraka/Chahbhar port of Iran on May 16 and was captured by Somali pirates off Socotra, it said.
The pirates after making use of the boat for 25 days left it stranded on June 10 after emptying food and fuel.
Coast Guard assistance was sought on June 21 and its Maritime Rescue and Coordination Centre (MRCC) diverted merchant vessels in proximity to render assistance, but they could not be of much help due to rough weather conditions.
A Coast Guard aircraft from Kochi detected the distressed vessel on June 21 and Varuna was diverted for the rescue mission.
The ship reached the area the next day and despite hostile weather and rough sea was able to provide bare essentials and medical assistance to the stranded crew.
Varuna was involved in the June 12 rescue operations in 22 crew on board the Carson vessel MV Asian Express that later sank off Lakshadweep were saved. The Coast Guard ship had also rescued 26 crew members of Singapore-bound merchant vessel MV Mol which sank about 840 km off Mumbai on June 16.