State Fisheries Minister K. Babu said: “Our law enforcing agencies are in the hunt to locate the ship that hit the fishing boat, and from what we have been able to gather is that the incident took close to 2 a.m. Thursday.”
The fishing boat “Dawn” had left from Kollam, 70 kms from here, for deep sea fishing Sunday with seven fishermen on board.
The dead have been identified as Xavier and Justin, the missing fishermen are Cleetus, Santhosh and Babychen, while the injured fishermen are Michael and Joseph, who were admitted in hospital and are out of danger.
The incident comes close on the heels of two Italian marines, Latorre Massimillano and Salvatore Girone — security officials on board the Italian ship Enrica Lexie — being arrested for shooting dead two Indian fishermen Feb 15 after mistaking them to be pirates.
Dominic Antony, the owner of “Dawn”, said: “My boat was anchored, the ship came and hit my boat. This is what I could gather from one of the rescued fishermen.”
Michael, who was injured, recalled the incident: “Everything happened in few minutes and we were thrown away. While I managed to swim in the waters, Xavier held on to my hands for sometime, then I could not locate him.”
“I could not see the ship and it was totally dark. I was told by others that the ship appeared to be a big one and was a cargo freighter. They did not sound any warning signs,” he added.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy expressed grief at the accident.