Two fishermen recall four-day nightmare at deep sea

Two fishermen recall four-day nightmare at deep sea
Moideen Bawa (L) with his granddaughter after returning home. Beside him is Fayas Muhammad (R) who was with him in the boat.

Ponnani: The return of two fishing workers, who drifted in the deep sea for four days and couldn't be traced by rescue forces, triggered the biggest celebration of the New Year. Moideen Bawa, 63, of Puthenpurayil, who stays near the Ponnani TN Hospital, and Cheringal Fayas Muhammad, 38, a native of Salem who lives in Thekkepuram, Ponnani, share their experience.

On to the sea

Bawa had 43 years of fishing experience in mechanised boats and country boats, but Fayas had been at sea for just two days. They ventured out into the sea on December 28 in Bawa's small fibre boat.

They had planned to return the next day and hence had stored only five litres of water, a kilogramme of plantains and some beaten rice. They were returning on 29th early morning as planned, but lost the direction due to thick fog. As they realised that they were heading for the deep sea, Bawa and Fayas turned back and headed for Tanur. But bad luck trapped them in the sea as the fuel got over.

Face-to-face with death

Bawa and Fayas had their food stock exhausted. “Drinking water was also over. Around 8 pm, the wind started blowing from the east, and the boat began flowing in the direction in which it was swept,” they said.

The fishermen threw into the sea their 115-kg net in a bid to reduce the boat's weight. “The catch was also returned to the sea. But the boat began to sway as it became lighter and was swept 60 nautical miles deeper into the sea. “Only huge cargo ships were visible. There was no way to call for help. We sat in the boat, hungry and thirsty.

Rescue arrives

Around noon on the 31st, they spotted a fibre boat coming fast from a distance. "We raised a red cloth that was in the boat, along with old clothes. The boat was owned by P K Aboobacker of Payyoli. They abandoned their fishing plan and decided to help us to the shore swiftly."

The fishermen reached Avikkara in Payyoli by 6 pm. As the New Year dawn arrived, t.hey were back to celebrations at their homes in Ponnani.

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