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Police probe seven Somalians found off Gujarat coast

Gandhinagar, July 3 (Calcutta Tube) The Gujarat marine police Saturday began investigating into the presence of seven Somalian nationals, found unconscious in an abandoned boat, off the coast of Veraval in the Saurashtra region of the state.

Indian fishermen had located the abandoned boat off the coast of Veraval in Saurashtra region Friday and alerted the coast guard and security agencies.

The seven, believed to be fishermen, were in a bad state having run out of food or water. They had to be carried ashore and were admitted to hospital.

According to preliminary information gleaned by the marine police, the seven said that they were fishing in the high seas when pirates attacked them and looted their nets and other belongings. The pirates had also taken away the radio equipment and damaged the engine.

Their boat had subsequently drifted into Indian waters.

Police are trying to check out their story. ‘We will do a thorough check of their credentials,’ police said, adding that they did not rule out the possibility of their being pirates themselves.

A spokesperson of the coast guard said here Saturday that the first information of the sighting of the suspicious boat was received at 10 a.m. Friday by their Veraval station.

Station Commander Chandyan Dey along with marine police and local fishermen braved through the rough seas and located the boat 15 miles off the coast.

‘The boat presented a pathetic sight. The seven crew members lay in a dehydrated state on the deck, unable to move or talk due to extreme exhaustion. First aid and water was provided to them and the boat towed to the shore,’ the coast guard said.

‘The seven people who were shifted to a government hospital and interrogated after regaining consciousness have revealed that they are Somalian nationals,’ the coast guard said.

According to their account, they were fishing off the Somalian coast May 25 when they were waylaid by Somalian pirates who robbed them and damaged their boats and left them in the sea, the spokesman said.

‘Drifting with the current and wind, using a handmade sail and a synthetic cloth, they survived on rainwater and algae until they were rescued after drifting for over 1,447 miles,’ the coast guard said.

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