Three fishermen of Gir Somnath district of Gujarat were killed and three others went missing after their fishing trawler reportedly caught fire in the wee hours of Tuesday while they were operating in the Arabian Sea off Jhakhau coast in Kutch, police said on Wednesday. Okha marine police said the incident took place at 1:30 am on Tuesday when the fishing trawler Bahu Bali caught fire. Sadul Vaghela, tandel (captain) of the boat told Okha police that burning firewood in the makeshift stove on board the wooden craft caused the fire.
“The tandel and six other fishermen were asleep inside cabin on board the wooden boat after having their dinner. All of a sudden, they were woken up by a major fire on their boat. In a bid to save their lives, they jumped into the sea. The tandel was rescued by another fishing trawler operating nearby but three fishermen died. Three more are still missing,” Nagbha Rana, in-charge police inspector of Okha told The Indian Express.
The victims were identified as Vijay Vaghela (20), Sanjay Bamaniya (18) and Parbat Bamaniya (50). Police also said that Sanjay Pamak (20), Bhana Bamaniya (44) and Kanji Vansh (25) went missing after the fire incident and that with the help of fishermen who were at sea, efforts were on to rescue them. “The tandel swam for around two hours before a fishing boat could rescue him. The same fishing boat also found bodies of three other fishermen,” Rana further said.
Fishermen generally go on two-week-long fishing trips and carry diesel in large quantities to power their boat. They also carry firewood or LGP cylinders for cooking their meal on board. Police said that Sanjay and Parbat were residents of Kob village in Una taluka of Gir Somnath district, while Vijay was a resident of Delvada village of Una. Pamak and Bhana were also residents of Kob village while Vansh belonged to Kaneri village also in Una. The captain of the boat too is a resident of Kob village. The bodies of the dead were brought to Okha port in Devbhoomi Dwarka district on Wednesday morning on board another fishing boat, police said.
Meanwhile, fisheries superintendent in Okha, SV Chaudhary said that Bahu Bali was registered at Mangrol harbour in Junagad district. “The trawler had set sail on January 5 and it was scheduled to return to the coast on January 19. But it caught fire and is reported to have sunk afterward,” said Chaudhary.
Talab Sanghar, president of Sagar Khedu Association, Okha, an orgnisation of fishermen said that though Bahu Bali, owned by one Babu Gosiya of Magnrol was registered at Mangrol port, it had been operating from Okha and had set the sail from Okha port on January 5. “Fishermen operating in the waters nearby are searching for the three missing fishermen,” Sanghar added.