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Ramakanta Biswas

Paradip: In a humanitarian gesture, the Indian Coast Guard has rescued 19 Bangladeshi fishermen who remained stranded in the middle of the sea for more than 20 days after their boat drifted into Indian territory.

The Bangladesh fishing boat ‘Rana’ with 19 crew onboard had left Coxbazar on November 15 for fishing and drifted into Indian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) due to break down in machinery. The crew was stranded in the sea with no ration onboard for over three weeks.

On the night of December 7, Indian Coast Guard aircraft while on operational tasking in the Bay of Bengal noticed adrift fishing boat in Indian EEZ. The boat was contacted on VHF radio to which no response was received.

The aircraft passed the information to Indian Coast Guard Ship (ICGS) Varad that was deployed in Bay of Bangal on another operational mission. The ship immediately approached towards the boat factoring wind and sea conditions and located the boat in early hours of December 8, an official statement said.

"The crew was found exhausted with no ration onboard and was provided with first aid, food and water by the Coast Guard ship. Bangladesh Coast Guard has been requested under the ambit of existing MOU between Indian Coast Guard and Bangladesh Coast Guard, to make necessary arrangements for taking over of the stranded fishing boat along with the crew at the pre designated location in vicinity of International Maritime Boundary Line," the statement said.

The stranded boat is being towed by Coast Guard ship for further handing over to Bangladesh authorities, it added.

(Edited By Suryakant Jena)

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