Express News Service
ALAPPUZHA: A pall of gloom descended on Tharayilkadavu village of Arattupuzha once again after the devastating tsunami of 2004 that killed 29 villagers. The four fishermen who died on Thursday after their boat capsized while returning to Kollam district’s Azheekkal harbour, around 10km from Tharayilkadavu, with their catch were from the village.
All 16 fishermen on board the boat were from Tharayilkadavu and Thrikkunnapuzha. According to P Girish, the ‘srank’ of another boat from the village named ‘Kadapran’, this is the first time after the tsunami that so many residents of Tharayilkadavu were killed in a tragedy. “The boat ‘Omkara’ with 16-member fishing team left the shore around 2am on Thursday. The accident happened when the boat returned to Azheekkal harbour and it happened very close to the sea wall constructed near the coast,” he said.
“A heavy whirlpool created by the ripples overturned the boat with the catch. The people on board were thrown into the water and they were swimming to the shore, but the strong waves that lashed repeatedly slammed them against the granite rubble, causing serious injuries and deaths,” Girish said.
“Mineral sand mining in the coastal areas of Thrikkunnapuzha, Arattupuzha and Azheekkal has had a huge impact on the shores. If the beach was filled with sand, the fishermen could have escaped. In this case, the sea waves gushed to the rock sea wall with force, injuring them seriously. The deceased fishermen crashed against the sea wall and were trapped inside the boulders,” Girish said.
“Sunil Dutt, one of the deceased, took up fishing after studies only a few years ago. The fishermen, who died in the accident, had also suffered badly during the tsunami,” he added. Fisheries Minister Saji Cherian, Finance Minister K N Balagopal, Agriculture Minister P Prasad and Food and Civil Supplies Minister G R Anil visited the homes of the victims separately.
Saji Cherian announced that the government has allotted Rs 10,000 as an immediate relief to the families of the deceased. “More relief would be declared after the cabinet meets. The state government will also meet the treatment expenses of the injured fishermen,” the minister said.
The minister also handed over the relief amounts released by Matsyafed and Kerala Fishermen’s Welfare Fund Board to the victims’ families. MP A M Ariff, MLAs P P Chitharanjan and U Pratibha accompanied Saji Cherian.