Mumbai relieved, ‘mysterious’ boats belong to army (Second Lead)

February 22nd, 2009 - 11:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Feb 22 (IANS) Fishermen reported mysterious spotting and disappearance of two speedboats near the Mumbai coast, raising alarms here Sunday, but the Coast Guard later said the vessels belonged to the Indian Army.
A Coast Guard spokesman said the army speedboats were on a sailing expedition from Mumbai to Porbandar in Gujarat when they were spotted around the Satpati coast near Palghar sub-district, around 110 km north of Mumbai.

“However, since there were no visible markings on the boats, the illiterate but alert fishermen in the area mistook them for something else,” the spokesman told IANS.

He added that there was no cause for worry, but admitted that the Coast Guard was not aware of the expedition trip.

The spokesman said that when the fishermen first informed the police and then the Coast Guard, the entire security drill was put in practice in view of the security issues involved in the wake of the Nov 26 Mumbai terror attacks.

The spokesman also commended the alertness of the fishing community and the police in this matter.

On receiving information from fishermen, Mumbai Police, Coast Guard and Indian Navy had gone in a tizzy for a few hours.

While the Vasai division police swung into action and put up road blocks and checked all small ports, jetties and landing points on the entire north Konkan coastal region, the authorities in Mumbai also implemented an operation to search out the missing boats.

“The boats were sighted by some fishermen around 10 nautical miles of the Satpati coast. They immediately informed us and we in turn alerted the concerned authorities in Mumbai,” Shashikant Mahavarkar, deputy superintendent of police of Vasai division in Thane, told IANS.

The matter had assumed serious overtones owing to the strategic location of Satpati, which is among the largest fishing villages in the Palghar sub-district of Thane.

In close proximity is Tarapur where four nuclear power plants are located and BSES’s power generation plant is located in the nearby Dahanu area, falling around 110 km north of Mumbai.

The 10 terrorists who attacked this city in November had used the Arabian Sea route from Pakistan and landed in south Mumbai.

Last month, the government deployed a fleet of high-speed patrol boats to guard the coastal regions of the state in an effort to prevent similar attacks.

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