South 24 Parganas, West Bengal:
The Indian Coast Guard rescued about 511 pilgrims of Gangasagar Mela stranded at sea in two different ferries, off Kakdwip in West Bengal on Monday.
Two passenger ferries carrying 500-600 pilgrims from Gangasagar were stranded in the sea due to fog and low tide since last night.
According to the official statement, Coast Guard District Headquarters No 8, Haldia was intimated by District Magistrate, South 24 Parganas about the grounding of two ferries at sea near Kakdwip at 9:15 am on Monday. The ferry vessels namely MV Lcchamati and MV Agramati, were ferrying about 600 pilgrims from Gangasagar Mela at Sagar Island to Kakdwip.
Upon receipt of the information, the operations team of the Coast Guard swung into action and immediately dispatched two Air Cushion Vehicles (Hovercraft) from Haldia and Frazerganj to provide rescue assistance.
The Air Cushion Vehicles arrived at the incident site at about 9:45 am and post assessing the on-scene situation, an evacuation plan was finalized. Simultaneously a Coast Guard Team also went to the stranded vessels to pacify the people, thereafter the personnel were briefed about the evacuation plan.
The hovercrafts started evacuating people at about 10 am to the nearest point at Kakdwip. The hovercrafts completed evacuating all the 511 pilgrims onboard both ferries by 1 pm.
The Indian Coast Guard during the annual Gangasagar Mela which was held from January 8-16 deployed sea-borne units at various strategic locations to ensure the safety and security of pilgrims during the Mela.
Two Hovercrafts carried out extensive shallow water patrol to provide safety and security cover round the clock. Besides this, seaward surveillance was also undertaken by Coast Guard aircraft and ships.
Since the Gangasagar Mela commenced, a rapid lifesaving action team of divers with Gemini boat was also positioned at the Mela site to ensure the safety of pilgrims during the holy bath in the sea-river confluence. Additionally, an Indian Coast Guard team headed by one officer from Coast Guard Station Frazerganj was positioned at Sagar Island for coordination with the State administration and to supervise seafront safety and security aspects.
The Gangasagar Mela takes place at West Bengal’s Sagar Island during Makar Sankranti every year.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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