Having lost trust in the search operations of the State and Central governments to locate their brethren who went missing after Cyclone Ockhi, 36 Kanniyakumari fishermen have mounted their own search operations in the uninhabited islands of Maldives. They have obtained permission from the island nation’s Foreign Affairs Ministry through the Indian Embassy in the Maldives.
Since hundreds of fishermen are still missing despite the searches by the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard, the fishermen were clamouring for searches in the deep sea, i.e., beyond 600 nautical miles. They also urged the Centre to approach the governments of neighbouring nations to search for the missing fishermen in the uninhabited islands of these countries, but in vain.
The fishermen of Vallavilai approached the Maldivian government through their Indian counterparts for getting permission to conduct searches in the uninhabited islands of Maldives.
After permission was granted, eight mechanised vessels of Vallavilai operating from Kochi with 36 fishermen left for these destinations on December 29.
“The fishermen team would have reached these islands by Tuesday or Wednesday (January 2 or 3) but so far we have not received any information [on missing fishermen]. They are expected to wind up the search operation by Friday (January 5),” says S. Sunil of Vallavilai, who is coordinating the mission.
Meanwhile, bodies of three more missing fishermen lying in government hospitals in Kerala were identified through DNA tests. Two of them were from Kanniyakumari district — A. Albin from Puthukadai and T. Wilfred from Eraviputhenthurai — and T. Kingston, was from Thoothukudi district. With this, the number of deceased fishermen from the district in cyclone-related mishaps on the high seas has risen to 10 while Thoothukudi district has lost two. Albin’s body was kept in the Aluva Primary Health Centre in Kochi, Kingston’s body at the Kozhikode Medical College Hospital and Wilfred’s body at the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College Hospital.
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