Kerala boat hit-and-run: Cargo ship sailor arrested

March 8th, 2012 - 11:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, March 8 (IANS) A sailor of cargo ship M.V. Prabhu Daya was arrested by Kerala Police here Thursday in connection with a hit-and-run case involving fishing boat Don-1 off the Kerala coast March 1, police said.

Speaking to IANS, K. Mahesh Kumar, deputy superintendent of police (DSP), said: “We have arrested one sailor who is from Gujarat. We will be taking him to Kochi.”

A co-accused second officer, Prasobh Sugathan, is in Sri Lanka. “It will take time to bring him here. The role of the captain has to be ascertained.”

Sugathan allegedly jumped off the ship and was rescued by a Sri Lankan fishing boat the next day. He is now in hospital in Trincomalee in Sri Lanka.

Sugathan’s father K.E. Sugathan told IANS in Thiruvananthapuram Wednesday that his son was hit and thrown into the sea and did not attempt suicide.

Queried about the father’s allegation, police official said: “We are not taking that into account now. The father has to tell that in court.”

The 2001 built bulk carrier M.V. Prabhu Daya belonging to Tolani Shipping and sailing under Singapore flag is alleged to have rammed into fishing boat Don-1, with seven fishermen on board, March 1 in which three of the occupants were killed.

The accident happened off Manakodam light house, 20 nautical miles off the Kochi harbour entrance. The ship was enroute to Singapore from Panaji.

Don-1 had left Kollam for deep sea fishing with seven fishermen on board Feb 26.

Indian shipping authorities suspected the M.V. Prabhu Daya as it did not respond to the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre out of the eight ships that were near the accident area.

According to Kumar, the process to move the cargo vessel to Kochi will be started by writing to directorate general of shipping.

On Wednesday, he told IANS that the Kerala Police took the ship into custody and charged three crew members as the accused.

Heeding the directions of Indian authorities earlier, M.V. Prabhu Daya which was near Sri Lanka came to Indian waters and was anchored at the outer anchorage of Chennai Port March 5.

A team of officials from Kerala police, Mercantile Marine Department (MMD), the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard began their probe by inspecting the ship, checking the navigational data and interrogating the crew.

An official of MMD told IANS: “The ship cannot say that it was not involved in the ramming of the fishing boat as we have concrete evidence to the contrary.”

According to him there were fresh scratch marks on the ship as well as pieces of fishing net were found tangled in the ships propeller.

He said the voice recordings inside the ship were being studied and it would take time. “It will be evident if voice recordings are erased,” he added.

Despite several attempts by IANS, officials of Tolani Shipping were not available for comment.

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