Of the eight Indians who drowned mid-sea close to Sharjah port in Dubai, chief engineer Vimlesh Sheravat and captain Rahul Salunkhe had a narrow escape from the gigantic waves.
Sheravat, who is originally from Jaipur in Rajasthan, saw Vasai resident Amit Yadav drifting away from him in the storm that stuck the vessels Alhambra and MT Capricorn on February 4, around eight nautical miles from Sharjah port in Dubai. Unfortunately, Sheravat could not do much to save his Yadav. However Salunkhe too cheated death and managed to survive the deadliest waves.
“I am still not able to believe that I have survived such a deadly calamity. The waves were as huge as ten storied apartments. Thankfully, I knew swimming and somehow I fought with the waves to save myself,” said Sheravat who was deputed as chief engineer with Al Humbra.
Vijay and Sheravat were in the offshore vessel, Al Humbra along with eleven other Indians at the time of the incident while another vessel Vapricorn had six Indians on board. The vessel usually had an assignment to ensure supply for the ships that are docked mid-sea. Of the 19 Indians, eight lost their lives while 11 of them managed to drift ashore with the help of live jackets.
Recalling the incident Sheravat said, “On February 4, when this accident took place, our ship was anchored at approximately 8 nautical miles under water but due to bad weather our ship began sinking. The waves went high up to 8-9 meters and within a few seconds our ship went completely under water. I was standing on the upper part of the ship whereas Amit Yadav, who was standing a few steps away from me, fell into the water. When the ship tilted I too fell in the water; but I was fortunate and I also knew swimming. Moreover, I saw a life saving jacket that probably fell from my ship. Somehow, I swam to the jacket and wore it.”
He further added that, “I saw that Amit was not very far. I tried calling out to him and I told him that a huge wave was approaching so he should swim towards my direction. I could not swim towards him, as it was the opposite direction of the wave. But, I heard Amit shouting that he could not swim as his leg was injured. I tried hard to reach out to him, but as I was talking to him, a huge wave threw me 500 metres away. Still, I started looking for him, but I was being pushed towards the shore because of the force of the water.”
Luckily, Sheravat knew that he won’t take too long to reach the shore. With hopes of survival, he kept floating with the waves and in just four to five minutes, he reached the shore. “I was very confident of my swimming skills and I knew that I won’t drown. As I reached the shore, few tourists pulled me out with the help of bamboo sticks. I am still haunted in my dreams, on how my friend who was with me on the ship since 14 months, had fallen prey to the waves and I just couldn’t save him,” he lamented.
Another survivor, Rahul Salunkhe 27 captain of Alhamra vessel, who stays at Pune, Maharashtra said, “I was lucky that I am alive. The incident was very unfortunate. When this happened, I jumped into the sea. Sunder, who died in this incident, was a good swimmer but he was injured due to which he was unable to swim. I somehow managed to reach the seashore, but when I turned back, Sunder was missing. After that, I heard the news that he is no more.”
“Also, we are not getting our salary since August. I had a dream that I’ll earn some good money out of my job. But, I lost many things in that tragic incident, including my passport, laptop, mobile phone, and clothes. I came to India on an emergency certificate. Now, I am going to apply for a new passport,” he added.
“On the ship I didn’t get my salary. The last salary was for the month of July. Moreover, our mobiles, wallet, laptops also fell into the water. We did not get our salary, and then we had to spend much more after the accident. I used to get 1500$ per month but now I have come back home empty handed,” Sheravat said.
Meanwhile, just two days back some of bodies of the dead were handed over to their respective families. But, those of the others are yet to be handed over.
Secretary of Forward Seamen’s Union of India, (FSUI), said, “If these people were RPSL license holders, then the families will gets the body easily as well as compensation from company. Unfortunately, they are non-RPSL license holders due to which they will not get any compensation. Now, we are going to file an FIR against these people who recruited these people.”
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