Thiruvananthapuram: When her husband James and brother Solomon set out into the sea to search for two missing colleagues, Sheela handed them an extra food packet. That small meal packet, wrapped with love and hope, was for her beloved ones who were stranded in the sea following Cyclone Ockhi.
In a cruel twist of fate, Eron and Alexander who were marooned in rough waters made it to the shores. But the five good Samaritans, including James and Solomon, who ventured out to the sea four days ago, braving the stormy weather to save them, have not returned yet.
As usual, Eron and Alexander had gone deeper in the sea on their wooden plank the night before the cyclone battered coastal Kerala. The duo, who make a living off fishing by means of a hook and line during nighttime, would normally return home in the wee hours.
But as they failed to come back even after 10 am, fourteen fishermen from the hamlet, including their relatives James and Solomon, went in search of them on three trawling boats. It was drizzling on and off, and the sea was relatively calm at that time.
Apart from James and Solomon, their neighbors Elben, 47; Shibu, 35; and Roy, 40; were in the same boat. They had carried food, water and medicines for their stranded colleagues. Reportedly, the boat headed towards north off the Vettukad coast.
However, within 10 minutes after they set out into the sea, those on the shores received a message, which said Eron and Alexander were located. The search team in one boat returned to the shores immediately after the information was passed on to them.
Though the locals tried to contact those in the other two boats, including the one carrying James and Solomon, they were out of reach. Soon, the weather turned severe with strong winds and flooding rains.
After three days, the second boat safely reached the Alappuzha coast. Despite hectic search by rescue teams, the third boat in which James and Solomon were traveling has not been located till Sunday night.