Tragedy averted after fishermen dive into sea to salvage capsized boat

Published August 7, 2022
Fishermen pull their boat towards shore.
Fishermen pull their boat towards shore.

KARACHI: Some 11 fishermen, all hailing from a fishing village in Ibrahim Hyderi, saved their own lives after a boat accident by reaching the seashore at Seaview in the early hours of Saturday.

The fishermen were on their boat named Al-Mustafa, with the registration number 17205B, at high seas when the strong winds and high waves resulted in the capsizing of the vessel.

According to Kamal Shah of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF), realising what was happening some fishermen dived into the sea to save themselves while others who were caught unawares got trapped under the boat. “The ones who dived into the water then swam up to the overturned boat to help their friends out from under it,” said Shah.

“Fishermen are very able and strong swimmers. They have no difficulty swimming against the tides even,” said Shah.

Vessel overturned due to strong winds, high waves

“At first they all climbed on top of their overturned boat for a breather. Then they dived into the sea again to try and turn their boat over again. After several tries, they succeeded in righting their boat. The boat is fine but it has lost its outboard motor or engine,” he informed.

“Thank God there was no loss of life. There is no alternative for a life,” said Shah. “But still the boat engine, which fell into the sea, sank due to its heavy weight, and lost. A new engine costs around Rs400,000 to Rs500,000 so his is a big blow to the fishermen,” he said.

“The incident took place at around 5am and the boat was towed out to the shore with the help of another rescue boat with ropes during high tide at around 10am. It was later pulled to the beach by around 20 to 25 fishermen who reached there to help upon hearing of the incident,” Shah added.

The PFF also aired their grievances about how lightly the safety of fishermen is taken in the country. “The fishermen saved their lives themselves. There was no one to help them or come to their rescue in the high seas, which concerns us. Even the boat which pulled Al-Mustafa near the shore was brought by our own fisherfolk so we only have our own people to thank for the safety of our own,” a PFF spokesperson added.

“Fishing is business. Fishing helps earn revenue and foreign exchange for this country. It has been the PFF’s objective from day one to gain support for fishermen from the government, but sadly the government and government organisations associated with fishing and the fisheries have always remained unsuccessful in helping fisherfolk or help them feel more secure. They are forced to lookout for themselves or look to NGOs for support instead,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Fishermen Cooperative Society (FCS) released the names of some eight of the fishermen involved in the incident.

They are Rashid Suleman, Shiraz, Murtaza, Karo, Salman, Ali Akbar, Mohsin and Rafiq. According to the FCS, the captain of Al-Mustafa swan ashore to get in touch with his relatives who then arrived with more help.

Nasir Bunairi of FCS said that the fishermen’s boat Al-Mustafa was later moved to the jetty in Ibrahim Hyderi.

Published in Dawn, August 7th, 2022

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