The five-member crew were J Selvam, 44, – master of the sailing vessel – Cornelius, 55, his son Sathish, 35, from Inigo Nagar, Mariyan, 27, from Fatima Nagar and J Kerris, 30, from Muthukrishnapuram in Tuticorin. The incident came to light after Cornelius and Sathish were rescued by the fishermen of Andrott Island off Lakshadweep and were rushed to the hospital, said Satyanarayana alias Thuraimugam Satya of Hind Mazdoor Sabha in Tuticorin.
The five had started in a sailing vessel ‘Madona’ owned by one Rafik from Mangalore on October 24. The vessel was ferrying construction materials and when it neared Andrott Island at around 3.45am on October 25, it sunk in the sea due to rough weather. “We are in touchwith our union members in Mangalore. They have assured that the rescue measures are being taken to find three more sailors missing in the sea,” Satyanarayana said.
Princeton Fernando, president of Sailing Vessel Owners Association in Tuticorin said the sailors are lured by more wages offered by the operators in West Coast. “Before sailing out, the sailors should ensure that the vessel is in perfect condition for rough sea especially the Arabian Sea, as it is very dicey,” he opined.
The families of the missing sailors are worried about their fate and a pall of gloom descended in their homes. Two more sailors from Tuticorin went missing off Calicut coast in a similar accident in January this year. They are yet to be traced.
Satyanarayana expressed anguish about sailors failing to inform their working areas to the union. “We have been alerting them repeatedly to keep the union informed about their owners and voyages so that we are in constant touch. It is important that the vessel condition should be thoroughly checked before the voyage and the sailors tend to ignore this crucial factor for more wages,” he rued. “Most of the sailors are the lone breadwinners of their houses and we are praying for their safety,” he added.