Bengaluru, (Samajweekly) All the nine crew members of tugboat ‘Coromandel’, who were stranded in the Arabian Sea, were rescued after Cyclone Tauktae crossed over the Karnataka coast earlier in the day, an official said on Monday.
“Of the nine crew, four were airlifted from the stranded ship on the high sea in a naval helicopter and flown to Mangaluru, while five were brought to the shore in a rescue boat,” Mohan Rajan, the Commissioner of Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre, said in a statement here.
The tugboat, belonging to the state-run Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL), had drifted outside the port and ran aground Mulki rocks due to heavy rains and gusty winds triggered by the severe cyclonic storm.
“As the sea was rough and choppy, Indian Coast Guard vessel Varsha could not reach the ship. An ALH Druv helicopter from INS Garuda flew from Kochi on the Kerala coast and rescued the seamen by winching them from the stranded tugboat,” Rajan said.
The state government has ordered an inquiry to ascertain why the ship did not return to the shore in time, as alerts were issued by the weather office about the cyclone approaching the west coast.
“Action will be taken against the authorities on the basis of the probe report,” said state Revenue Minister R. Ashoka, who inspected the cyclone-hit areas in Dakshin Kannada and Udupi districts on the west coast.
The minister also directed MRPL to pay Rs 10 lakh compensation to two crew members of another of its tugboat, Alliance, who drowned when it capsized in the rough sea on Sunday.
Ashoka announced Rs 5 lakh each to those whose houses have been destroyed in the cyclone and Rs 1 lakh to those whose houses have been partially damaged.
The minister also thanked the Western Naval Command and the Coast Guard for rescuing the stranded crew from both the tugboats.
Even as the cyclone drifted towards the northwest, moderate to heavy rains and gusty winds lashed the coastal areas and many parts of Malnad region in the state during the last 24 hours.
According to the weather office, 11 cm of rainfall was recorded at Kadra in Uttara Kannada district and 7 cm each at Honnavar in the same district and at Kollur in the adjacent Udupi district.
Meanwhile, the Indian Metrological Department (IMD) forecast moderate to heavy rains and thunderstorms over the next 48 hours in most places in the coastal region, and several areas in the state’s southern and northern areas due to favourable conditions and as a spillover of the cyclone.
In a related development, the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Service (INCOIS) warned of high waves in 3.5-5 metre range till Tuesday along the state’s coast from Mangaluru to Karwar.
“Fishermen are advised not to venture into the sea till Wednesday morning,” the centre said in a statement here.
The state’s disaster management authority said in a statement that in all, 121 villages spanning across eight districts in the state’s coastal and central regions were affected by the cyclone havoc, which left behind a trail of destruction.
“In all, eight persons were killed, including two each in Dakshina Kannada and Belagavi and one each in Udupi, Uttara Kannada, Kodagu, Shivamogga, Hassan and Chikkamagaluru in isolated incidents due to heavy rains and gusty winds.