The Indian Navy has identified the vessel that rammed a fishing boat off the coast of Kollam on Saturday as a cargo ship belonging to a Hong Kong shipping company and are now on its trail, officials said on Sunday.
Various authorities, including the Navy, Coast Guard and state government agencies have traced the cargo ship off the Sri Lankan coast.
According to those in the know, a naval aircraft has already left for Sri Lanka while a naval ship from Port Blair is now heading towards the island nation's coast where the ship has been spotted.
The 'hit and run' incident occurred around 12.15 pm on Saturday when the vessel hit the small motorised fishing boat, with six on board, at a spot 39 nautical miles from the Kochi coast and sped away.
"We were thrown out of the boat and it was after some time that we were rescued by other fishermen who were in the area," said one of the rescued fishermen.
The accident came to light after Susheel Yacoob, President and Chairman of Vivanet Solutions Private Limited, a telecommunications network for fishing vessels, informed the Coastguard and Navy.
According to officials, the Indian naval officials have already sought the help and support of the Sri Lankan authorities and are expecting to get the cargo ship back to Kochi or Port Blair for further probe.
Six fishermen, who were rescued from the fishing boat, have been brought to shore. The fishermen, all hailing from various parts of Tamil Nadu, were brought to Neendakara in Kollam late on Saturday night.
The fishing boat Arogya Annai, which was partially destroyed after being rammed, was also brought to Neendakara last night. Arogya Annai, owned by Sahayam of Kanyakumari, operates from Neendakara. The men on board were rescued by fishermen of another boat, Love Maria, which was in the vicinity.
A team of the officials from Fort Kochi reached Neendakara to begin procedures for registering a case. “We have taken the statement of the fishermen, a case will be registered once the crew of the ship are identified,” Coastal Circle Inspector TM Varghese had told TNM.