In a major accident reported in Gujarat, at least 15 fishing boats capsized mid-sea off Gir Somnath Nava Bandar port due to strong winds on Thursday. Of the 15 fishermen present onboard, four have been rescued while 11 fishermen are feared to have drowned. Relief operations are underway to rescue the missing fishermen.
There had been a warning issued for 3 days for fishermen to not venture out into the sea due to the weather conditions. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted heavy and widespread rain in Gujarat and North Konkan on December 1 and 2.
"A fresh active western disturbance as a trough in mid-latitude westerlies is likely to affect northwest and adjoining central India from Tuesday night and its interaction with a lower-level trough in easterlies winds. Under their influence, widespread rain/thunderstorm with isolated heavy to very heavy rainfall is likely over Gujarat on Wednesday and isolated heavy rainfall on Thursday," the IMD had warned.
A rescue operation was launched with the help of a Coast Guard helicopter early Thursday morning to find the eight missing fishermen, Una taluka's mamlatdar (revenue officer) R R Khambhra told PTI.
Locals claimed that at least 10 boats were completely destroyed and 40 others, which were anchored at the coast, were partially damaged due to the stormy weather.
"The sea conditions turned rough after midnight in Navabandar village due to the strong winds and sea waves. Initially 12 fishermen were untraceable, but four of them managed to swim back to the shore, while eight are still missing. We have started a rescue operation with the help of a helicopter sent by the Coast Guard," Khambhra said.
According to Navabandar sarpanch (village head) Somvar Majithia, the fishermen were sleeping inside their anchored boats when the strong winds and waves struck the coast around midnight following a sudden change in the weather. Gujarat witnessed a change in the weather conditions on Wednesday with some parts of the state receiving rains, which is unusual in the month of December.
Last week, a major collision occurred between two cargo ships, MVs Aviator and Atlantic Grace in Gujarat's Gulf of Kutch, causing an oil slick in the Arabian sea. The collision between the two bulk cargo ships took place on November 26, off the coast of Gujarat. However, no casualties were reported from it. Meanwhile, Indian Coast guard ships and pollution control vessels were put on standby.