Sailors of a ship that sank off Mumbai on Wednesday morning were pulled to safety in a dramatic rescue operation in swelling sea waters.
The ship, MV Coastal Pride, a cement carrier, sank at around 8.45 am because of bad weather.
After receiving an SOS from the ship a little after 6 am, the navy sent a Sea King chopper from its aviation base in Mumbai’s Colaba and the coast guard dispatched two Chetak helicopters.
Six men were rescued from the ship but by the time the Sea King chopper arrived, the ship had toppled. Time became crucial as eight men were winched into helicopters that hovered in gusting winds.
“It is tremendously difficult if you are hovering and maintaining a distance of around 20 to 30 feet because of the swell. Pilots do only that and air divers send winches down and bring up the men. It is a very, very specialized and precise operation to make sure there is no loss of life,” said Navy spokesperson, Captain DK Sharma.
The rescued sailors, 14 of them, were brought to a beach in Umargaon, Gujarat, around 150 km from Mumbai.
This is the second such operation in 48 hours.
Two days ago, the navy rescued 20 crew members of a drifting merchant vessel using its Sea King chopper. Swaying in strong winds and heavy rain, the ship had listed dangerously after some heavy containers on board had tilted to one side.