After the successful joint Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard operation on 10/11 Dec 09 for the release of two Indian Coast Guard personnel from the Sri Lankan fishing vessel ‘Win Marine’, an Indian Naval ship was directed to escort the fishing vessel from it’s position approximately 105 nautical miles east of Chennai.
As the tropical cyclone in the Bay of Bengal was moving towards the Tamil Nadu coast, the only safe direction for the vessel was towards the North. However, despite repeated effort from the Indian Navy ship and also Sri Lankan authorities who were in touch with the fishing vessel, the vessel did not comply with the advice and stopped in a position approximately 100 nautical miles east of Chennai at 2230 hrs.
At about 2345 hrs, the fishing vessel was observed to be on fire. The Indian Naval ship closed her immediately to render assistance. However, on closing the fishing vessel, the ship observed that the boat’s upper decks were ablaze and therefore, commenced search for possible survivors in the vicinity. A Dornier aircraft was also launched to augment the search effort at dawn on 12 Dec 09; but had to return to base due to inclement weather. Search for the survivors has been temporarily called off due to the very adverse weather in the area.
Meanwhile two Coast Guard ships continued the escort of the balance six Sri Lankan fishing vessels and they are scheduled to enter Kakinada port on night of 12/13 Dec 09 where they be handed over to police to initiate penal action as laid down in the Maritime Zones of India Act 1976.
Update: Naval sources say one crewman was seen in the water and a buoy/lifeline was thrown to him, but he was unable to reach the line.