An Indian passenger-cargo vessel was left stranded at sea on December 1 after a fire on board and was rescued by the Indian Coast Guard after a nearly 24-hour ordeal. The Coast Guard reports that all the passengers and crew were safe.

The Kavaratti is a 394-foot-long ship able to transport up to 700 passengers and 2,000 tons of cargo. Built in 2008, the vessel was designed specifically for the trade between Kochi on the southwest coast of India and the Lakshadweep Islands located about 200 nautical miles west of the Indian coast. The vessel provides transportation to residents of the islands as well as a tourist service to the tropical destination.

The ship departed Kochi on November 30 and had made its first stop in the Lakshadweep Islands before starting the trip to the second port at Androth. According to the Coast Guard, they received reports of an engine room fire on December 1 and dispatched a vessel in the area to provide assistance. The crew of the passenger ship was able to extinguish the fire, although the vessel was left without power and drifting approximately 30 miles off the Kavaratti islands.

Reports indicated that there were 624 passengers and 85 crew aboard the Kavaratti. The Coast Guard considered transferring the passenger at sea but reported that sea conditions were not ideal and without power the vessel’s hatch doors were closed further complicating an evacuation.

The decision was made for the Indian Coast Guard vessel Samar to take the passenger ship in tow. The tow began at approximately 6:15 pm Wednesday evening and was expected to take up to 17 hours to reach Androth. Passengers complemented the crews’ efforts but noted that no food or water was available after the fire.

When they finally arrived at the island, 274 passengers disembarked. An additional 350 passengers were later transferred to a second passenger ship, the Coral, to continue their voyage to the other islands and to return to Kochi.

Source: maritime-executive