(Eds: Updates number of fishermen, adds details) Ernakulam/Malappuram (Ker), Sep 7 (PTI) At least 24 fishermen stranded in rough seas off Kerala coast were rescued on Monday in a joint operation by the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) and others while search was on for another 31.
The ICG, in a release, said at least 55 fishermen on board 14 boats were in distress close to the Kerala coast after deterioration of weather since Sunday.
ICG ships and aircraft were pressed into Search and Rescue (SAR) mission despite adverse weather conditions and the timely action in alerting the fishing boats in vicinity resulted in 24 fishermen being rescued by the Coast Guard, fellow fishers, Marine Enforcement Wing and Coastal Security Police, it said.
'Lookout for balance 31 fishermen is in progress,' the release added.
It said the missing fishing boats were from Ponnani, Kayamkulam, Munambam and Azhikode harbours in Malappuram, Ernakulam and Allapuzha districts.
'Indian Coast Guard Dornier aircraft and Chetak Helicopter along with Coast Guard ship ICGS Samar, ICGS Vikram, ICGS Aryaman and interceptor boat C-144 are undertaking extensive sea air coordinated search at sea.
'Further, electronic surveillance of the area is being maintained through Coastal Surveillance Network to shepherd fishing boats in the area to safer locations and regular weather advisory is also being transmitted,' the ICG said.
It also informed that Maritime Rescue Coordination Center (Mumbai) have also raised messages to alert all ships in vicinity to maintain lookout and render assistance to distressed fishermen and their vessels.
Earlier, the coastal police told PTI that eight of the ten fishermen, who went missing in rough seas off Malappuram district were rescued in a joint operation by the coastal police, the ICG and local fishermen.
On Sunday, weathermen said Kerala may experience heavy rain and wind due to the low pressure formed in the Arabian Sea.
In view of this, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan appealed to fishermen not to venture out to sea for 48 hours beginning on Sunday.
On Monday, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the southwest monsoon was vigorous over Kerala.
According to it, heavy rainfall was expected in the coming days at most places in the southern state. PTI RRT TGB NVG VS VS