Kolkata: With life jacket tied around his waist to stay afloat and rainwater as only sustenance, Rabindranath Das (Kanu), a fisherman from West Bengal’s South 24-Paraganas, braved the rough sea for 5 days after his fishing trawler MV Nayan capsized on July 6.
The fisherman, who had set out to sea with 14 others, including his nephew, was rescued on July 10 in a dramatic mid-sea operation by a Bangladeshi vessel called MV Jawad, which was carrying 25,000 tonnes of cargo from Dhamra port in Odisha to Chittagong in Bangladesh.
Rabindranath Das narrated his horrific ordeal to his rescuers, which included the MV Jawad Captain SM Nasir Uddin and Chief Officer Preyatosh Chowdhury, who found him floating on a raft made out of bamboo and empty jars of oil.
“I don’t have words to explain how I survived in mid sea for five days. I saw my friends, relatives drowned in front me,” said Das. He added that his nephew, Swapan, and another fisherman had managed to cling to the makeshift raft. However, the other fisherman drowned hours before Das was rescued, while his nephew was floating with him until three hours before the rescue.
“I was holding my nephew Swapan but could not save him because he became very weak after consuming sea water. He suffered from severe stomach infection,” he said.
He himself avoided drinking seawater, he said. “Initially, I had few biscuits in my pocket but for the last four days (till he was rescued) I survived on rain water. I used to pray for rain whenever I used to feel hungry,” Rabindranath explained.[caption id="attachment_2234447" align="alignnone" ]
Rabindranath Das, shortly after being rescued and brought on board the Bangladeshi vessel.
He went to share that he was attacked by fishes, crabs and some kind of reptiles at night. “It was pitched dark everywhere. The water was freezing. They nibbled my body. I used to cry and scream out of fear. It was the scariest moment of my life,” he said.
The survivor heartily thanked the crew of the Bangladeshi ship, and added that the incident made him love the sea even more.
Speaking exclusively to News18 over telephone from Bangladesh, Captain SM Nasir Uddin said that the rescue operations were “very risky” given that the sea was extremely rough and the cargo load so heavy.
He said, “Near Chittagong we noticed a man floating and struggling in mid sea near Kutubdia. With binoculars we reconfirmed that it was a human being.” He then took permission from his head office and initiated the rescue operation, which lasted for three hours.
The fisherman being pulled out of the sea as Bangladeshi crew rescue him
Das was then given food and basic medical assistance. The Captain said that he explained the crew the circumstances in which his fellow fishermen died.
Although it was a difficult operation, Captain Nasir Uddin said that he wanted to thank Allah for making it possible. “That day everything was like a miracle. It was god’s wish,” he added.
Chief Officer of MV Jawad Preyatosh Chowdhury said, “I never witnessed such incident in my life. Initially, I could not believe but when we reach bit closer, we saw a human being struggling to survive on mid sea.”
He explained that his crew immediately swung into action and started the rescue operation. It lasted from around 11 am and by 12.45 pm Rabindranath was on board.
“This is simply miracle and nothing else. In simple words, he cheated death,” he said.