The Indian Coast Guard, in a swift operation on Monday, rescued 511 pilgrims stranded in two different ferries in the sea, off West Bengal’s Kakdwip, officials said.
According to the Coast Guard at about 9 a.m. on Monday, a message was received from District Magistrate, South 24 Paraganas at Coast Guard District Headquarters No. 8(Haldia), intimating about grounding of two ferries at sea near Kakdwip.
The ferry vessels, namely MV Lcchamati and MV Agramati, were ferrying pilgrims from Ganga Sagar Mela at Sagar Island to Kakdwip. Upon receipt of the information, the operations team of Coast Guard swung into action and after ascertaining the position, immediately dispatched two ACVs (hovercraft) from Haldia and Frazerganj to provide rescue assistance, a Coast Guard official added.
The ACVs arrived the incident site at about 9.45 a.m. and after assessing the on scene situation, an evacuation plan was finalised. Simultaneously a Coast Guard Team also went to the stranded vessels to pacify the people, and personnel were briefed about the evacuation plan.
The hovercrafts started evacuating the people at about 10 a.m., taking them to the nearest landing point at Kakdwip, and the entire operation was completed by around 1 p.m.
The Coast Guard also said that during the annual Ganga Sagar Mela which was held from January 8-16, they deployed sea-borne units at various strategic locations to ensure the safety & security of people. Two hovercraft carried out extensive shallow water patrol to provide safety and security cover round the clock.
Besides this, seaward surveillance was also undertaken by Coast Guard aircraft and ships.
Since commencement of the Mela, a rapid lifesaving action team of divers with a Gemini boat was also positioned at Mela site to ensure the safety of pilgrims during holy bath at the sea confluence.
Additionally an Indian Coast Guard team headed by one officer from Coast Guard Station Frazerganj was positioned at Sagar Island for co-ordination with state administration and supervise sea front safety and security aspects.