More than four months after the disappearance of Suvarna Tribhuja, a fishing boat from Udupi, the Indian Navy has found the wreckage of the boat. The seven fishermen who were on board are currently missing.
The Navy confirmed that the lengthy search operation for the missing boat, which had left for a deep-sea fishing expedition off the coast of Goa, ended after the wreckage of the vessel was discovered 33 km west-south-west (WSW) off the coast of Malvan in Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra.
The wreckage was found by INS Nireekshak, a diving support vessel of the Indian Navy, through side scan sonar operations. The wreckage was confirmed by naval divers who dove to a depth of 60 metres.
Missing Fishing Boat Wreck Found by #IndianNavy - After an intensive search by ships & aircraft since December 2018, #IndianNavy has located the wreck of fishing vessel Suvarna Tribhuja 33 km WSW of the coast of Malvan. The wreck was found by #INSNireekshak on 01 May 19. 1/2 pic.twitter.com/23ZVJ3XfxZ— SpokespersonNavy (@indiannavy) May 2, 2019
The fishing boat with seven fishermen on-board had left the coast of Goa on December 13. It had last made contact with six other boats from Udupi, which were also fishing off the coast of Goa, on the morning of December 16 around 1 am.
Protest held in Udupi in January over the plight of the missing fishermen
After this, the boat and fishermen were unreachable. The men on-board were Chandrashekar, who owns the boat, along with six other fishermen – Damodar (40) from Malpe, Lakshman (45), Sathish (35), Ravi (27), Harish (28), and Ramesh (30) from Bhatkal.
The Indian Navy and police officials in Udupi did not comment about the recovery of any persons on-board. "We have made contact with the naval base in Karwar about the possibility of anyone on-board found with the wreckage. We are yet to receive a confirmation about this," said Udupi Superintendent of Police (SP) Nisha James.
Ten members of the families of the fishermen also assisted the Indian navy in the search for the ship. "We made repeated visits along with the Indian Navy to search for the ship near Sindhudurg. We found three canisters from the ship in December but there was no further trace of the ship," said Nithyananda, brother of the boat-owner Chandrashekhar. Nithyananda was also part of the latest team to search for the ship this week.
In January. thousands of fishermen protested in Udupi urging authorities to intensify the search for the boat. The plight of the missing fishermen was also highlighted by several politicians who visited the Malpe fishing harbour including Home Minister MB Patil, Udupi District Minister-in-charge Jayamala and MLA Raghupathi Bhat.