The Coast Guard Wednesday rescued 22 crew members,including four Indians and 18 Maldivians,from a sinking cargo ship off Minicoy Island,Lakshadweep. The vessel had developed an engine failure on June 10 and had been adrift since then. All crew members will be given medical aid and taken to Kochi.
Coast Guard officials said the ship,MV Asian Express,registered in Maldives,was on its way to Male,Maldives,from Md. Bin Qasim Port,Pakistan. The 5,955-tonne ship was carrying sand and cement.
The vessel could not communicate due to rough weather. The satellite communication signal was constantly breaking, a Coast Guard official said. In the meantime,the vessel developed a four-metre long crack on the starboard side below the waterline.
An Indian vessel spotted the ship and alerted the Coast Guard. Our vessel ICGS Varuna was diverted. It was 85-90 nautical miles away and reached the vessel at 3 pm.
Unable to stop the flooding in the vessel,the Coast Guard decided to evacuate. It was a difficult operation as the water was so choppy that the crew could not stand straight on the deck, said the official.
The statements of the crew will be recorded after they are given medical care. We havent received the final report of the rescue operations as the weather is interrupting the relay of information from the Varuna. The vessel has not sunk yet and we are keeping a watch. We will get details on Thursday, he said.