PANAJI: Coast Guard early Sunday morning airlifted four injured and ailing crewmembers from the casino vessel that got grounded off Miramar beach.
While the vessel was drifting in choppy waters, the injured crewmembers were immediately rescued following a helicopter-borne rescue operation, and transported for medical attention.
Coast Guard spokesperson later told reporters that their team rescued four crewmembers, who had suffered minor injuries on board the vessel, during the wee hours of Sunday. He said that the helicopter was pressed into service, as the choppy waters made it difficult to rescue the crewmembers with the help of a rescue boat.
Thereafter, a Drishti lifeguard on duty at Miramar beach, Nilesh Dhuri, immediately rushed to the grounded vessel on a jet ski and enquired if any assistance was needed. The crewmembers on board told the lifeguard that no assistance was need at the time and that all was fine.
The casino vessel has 16 crewmembers on board. A Drishti lifeguard team has been on standby since Sunday morning in case its services are required for rescue operation. The vessel has now drifted and is grounded very close to the Miramar shore.
News of the grounded vessel spread like wildfire through social media and by evening, hundreds of people from nearby areas flocked to the Miramar beach to have a glance at the grounded vessel. Along with tourists, many locals too were seen taking selfies along with their families and friends near the grounded vessel.
Anand Madgaonkar, an expert salvager, told reporters at the Miramar beach that the crewmembers unnecessarily took high risk of bringing the vessel in the Mandovi river from Mormugao harbour when it is well known that the Aguada sandbar area is closed for navigation. He said the vessel owner could have waited till September when the sandbar is opened for traffic and then brought in the vessel.
Madgaonkar said that the vessel owners will try to salvage the vessel on Sunday evening when the tide is expected to be favourable. The vessel should be removed from the sandbar before it affects the beach, he said.
Meanwhile, the Congress party has demanded an explanation from Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar.
“Chief Minister owes an explanation to the people of Goa as to why the government pressurised the Captain of Ports to grant permission to this particular vessel when the Aguada-Miramar channel is currently closed for any kind of navigational traffic due to the monsoon season,” said All India Congress Committee secretary Girish Chodankar.
He said that the government overlooked all the consequences it could face before giving its nod for entry to the sixth casino in River Mandovi.
“‘Though the government went ahead in the name of High Court to get another casino in River Mandovi against the sentiments of the people, the nature has intervened and stopped it from entering the river,” he said.
Chodankar has asked the government to take stern action against all those involved in granting the permission and demanded arrest of the vessel owner. He has also asked the government to take deposit from the owner, as the grounded vessel poses a threat to marine life and there is possibility of oil spillage from the vessel.