At least 19 fishermen have gone missing after their boats capsized in the Bay of Bengal near the coastline of West Bengal's South 24 Parganas district, a state Minister said on Tuesday.
Although several Indian Coast Guard ships have been deployed to conduct rescue operations, apart from the help coming from the local police and the Fisheries Department, they were not able to trace the fishermen till late on Tuesday.
According to Manturam Pakhira, Minister for Sunderbans Development, the fishermen from South 24 Parganas district's Namkhana and Kakdwip areas sailed into the sea on Monday morning as the weather forecast was good, but the sea became very rough towards the evening causing several fishing trawlers to capsize.
"A number of fishermen have been recovered from the sea by nearby trawlers, but 19 of them have been missing since Monday evening. They were in different trawlers and got thrown into the sea after their trawlers overturned," the Minister told IANS.
"Coast Guard personnel, police officers and members of a fishermen association have also gone out into the sea for the rescue operation. A search airplane of the Coast Guard has also been pressed into service," he said.
Pakhira said the missing fishermen were travelling in five trawlers including two from Namkhana and three from Frazerganj.
"Ten fishermen went missing from MV Joykishan and six others have gone missing from MV Malleshwar. Three other fishermen from some other trawlers also fell into the rough sea on Monday," he said.
"The rescue ships are facing difficulties due to the rolling waves and ghastly wind in the deep sea. The search operation will continue," the minister added.