Port Blair, Jan 29: Three photographs which surfaced yesterday in social media pointed out that there was a second boat close to MV Aqua Marine, when the boat was sinking, triggering speculations that the boat had escaped, leaving passengers dying.
After covering the initial story on 28 January 2014,Abhey Gupta(Journalist) investigated further deep and found that the second boat from which the photographs were taken was MV Jaikar.
Abhey Gupta(Journalist) also traced out the owner and the Master of MV Jaikar. Well experienced and highly knowledgeable Master of MV Jaikar Mr. Thamba Kumar, popularly known as Thamba Master today narrated the inside story of the tragedy.
Talking to Abhey Gupta(Journalist), Thamba Master told that it was nearly 3.30 pm when he observed that the tourist boat MV Aqua Marine, which was going towards Chatham Jetty from Ross Island, infront of his boat, is tilting from rear side.
Getting worried Thamba Master took his boat, with nearly 30 tourists, close to MV Aqua Marina. “I maintained a distance of 5 mtr because in such conditions the sinking boat could also hit my boat killing passengers in my boat,” Thamba Master added.
He said by the time he reached close to the boat passengers of the boat started crying for help and to save them. Meanwhile, the amateur master of MV Aqua Marine A Prabhu, who was given the charge in absence of a full-time boat master, moved his boat toward MV Jaikar, in a dangerous way.
“By that time, at 3.50 PM, the boat started sinking and people were on the sea. We were facing North East winds, so I took my boat on the East side and asked all boys in my boat to jump and save people as many as possible,” Thamba Master added.
The four crew members of the boat Gautam, Raju, Netai and Rajesh first threw all the life jackets present in their own boat and then jumped in water to bring people. They saved as many as 10 people. By the time Thamba Master intimated the Port Control Tower about it.
But sadly it was the tourists present in MV Jaikar who played negative role. The tourists started shouting on crew members and asked to take them to safety first.
“They slapped one crew member and manhandled me. My shirt buttons were torn off. By that time, within 20 minutes of my message I saw four private boats Soniya, Dolphin, Meenakshi and Seven Star coming for rescue so I took my boat toward jetty with 10 rescued people. By the time we reached near Chatham we saw Police Boat coming for rescue,” he said.
According to Thamba Master the accident occurred due to total negligence of the crew of MV Aqua Marine. There was leakage inside engine room as two amateur people were handling the boat and third crew was missing, they could not bail out water, which resulted in the accident.
“Moreover, tourists were not knowing how to wear life jacket. Some were putting it around head and drowned. A mother gave her baby to my boys and said to save her first but before we could save the mother too, the mother left the life jacket and died. It is impossible to hold a life jacket wearing a saree in heavy water current,” he said.
Thamba Master and his team were real heroes, contrary to the earlier belief that they ran away, they had actually saved 10 passengers and their own 30 passengers. Abhey Gupta(Journalist) team Salutes Thamba Master and his brave team.