In a case of mid-sea hit-and-run, a cargo ship with Panama flag Amber L, collided with a boat Carmel Matha around 12 nautical miles off Kochi coast and tried quietly sail away.
The ship was later apprehended by Indian Navy.
Survivors recount that the 14 people onboard Carmel Matha were terrified as their boat started to sink. They tried to swim to safety and held on to anything to stay afloat, but the cargo ship refused to help and sped away, they said.
“By the time we surfaced back on water, the ship was gone” said a survivor Britto who with others is being treated at General Hospital in Kochi.
The deceased were identified as Anthony Raj from Tamil Nadu, and Rahul Das and search for Moti Das from Assam is underway.
Govt. has announced Rs. 2 lakh for next kin of the dead.
Meanwhile, the ship though intercepted in high seas, has not been docked yet.
Coastal Security ADGP Tomin Thachankary said 12 nautical miles is the boundary for territorial waters hence the collision is very much within our jurisdiction.
Amber L hasn’t been brought to the coast owing to rough weather apart from the fact that our coast lacks the depth needed to anchor the ship, which has a draft of 12 metres.
“We have asked an agent to lighten cargo and get the ship to the port” Thachankary added.
The captain , a Greek citizen, has been charged under IPC section 304 for culpable homicide not amounting to murder. Amber L had 22 people on board .
All’s not right with Amber L
A port official at Kochi said Amber L wasn’t even supposed to be in the port.
“This ship was not meant to arrive at Kochi port, so why did it comes so close to our coast,” he asked.
“After the incident, police informed us they needed a berth to anchor a ship whose draft is 12 meter, that’s when we learnt of its coming,” he added.
Safety Procedures Missing
Allegations now rise that Amber L did not have its safety measures in place.
“These ships normally to on autopilot in the night. This ship does not seem to have had proper lighting in the night,” said president of fishermen’s union Kerala Matsyathiozhilali Aikyavedi.
Ships on auto-piloting shoot at the sky or disperse enormous water to alert approaching vessels and avoid collisions. “But Amber L crew did not do either.” Charles added.
Amber L is also faulted for not having informed The Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Mumbai or Chennai , a standard procedure when collision occurs.
Around 1000 ships pass by Indian coast each day and approx. 27,000 fishing vessels venture into the sea from the coast in the opposite direction.