Kolkata, Aug 20: The families of Bikash, Milan and three of their friends had warned them against taking the risk. Yet, they joined the 13-member crew of fishing boat Satyanarayan that sailed from Kakdwip during fair weather.
This was the first outing for the five youth who had wanted to learn the ropes of deep-sea fishing. Satyanarayan was going out far, close to the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) between India and Bangladesh, primarily in search of the silver catch - the Hilsa.
Little did they know that at that time that it would be 'Baptism by Fire' (or the Sea in this case) for them. Missing and presumed dead, the five were rescued from the Bhangaduni Island of Sundarbans on Saturday. The Bhangaduni Island is part of the Sundarbans Reserve Forest and is frequented by tigers. However, the weather had kept the tigers at bay.
"We had issued an alert after tracking a depression in the Bay of Bengal. By Friday morning, all fishing trawlers were heading back to harbour. When we received information that FB Satyanarayan had capsized, Indian Coast Guard Ship (ICGS) Anmol and Varad were diverted from their normal duties to the location, about 5 nautical miles off Bhangaduni.
"A coordinated search and rescue operation was launched with the fisheries department of the Government of West Bengal and fishermen. By Friday evening, 13 members of FB Satyanarayan had been picked up by other fishing trawlers. There were, however, no trace of the five novices though," a senior Coast Guard official said.
A massive search operation was launched on Saturday morning with Coast Guard Dornier aircraft and fishing trawlers. The five youths, who had passed the test and proved their mettle, after the FB Satyanarayan capsized, started swimming in the rough sea to stay alive.
They covered an estimated 10 km and reached Bhangaduni where they spent the night. On Saturday morning, a fishing boat picked them up and headed back towards Kakdwip.
"The capsize of FB Satyanarayan and the missing report of the five youths has a silver lining. While searching the waters in the area, 10 Bangladeshi fishermen were found clinging to nets and floatsom about 12 nautical miles from the Bhangaduni Island.
"They were rescued by the ICGS Anmol and provided with first-aid, food and water. The Bangladeshis said that they lost control of their boat that finally capsized during the storm and have been drifting with the tide since Friday morning, before being rescued. Two crew members are missing, they reported," the Coast Guard official said.
The Bangladeshi fishermen, who owe their lives to Bikash, Milan and their three friends, are now on their way to Haldia where the Coast Guard will hand them over to state authorities for further processing.