An “unidentified” merchant ship collided with an Indian fishing trawler early Thursday about 15 nautical miles off the country’s southern coast of Kerala, leaving two fishermen dead and three missing. Two men were rescued by crewmembers of other fishing boats in the vicinity.
The incident comes two weeks after Indian police authorities arrested two Italian armed guards aboard the Enrica Lexie, who are accused of killing two fishermen, also off the Kerala coast.
“A massive search has been launched by the Indian Navy and Coast Guard to locate the merchant vessel,” the Indian Defense Ministry said.
Officials said the fishing boat capsized and sank immediately after colliding with what was reported to be an oil tanker.
“The boat was hit by the cargo ship despite us signaling to it about our presence. The collision happened around 1 a.m. (local time) when it was quite dark in the sea,” a rescued fisherman said.
Shipping Minister G.K. Vasan said maritime agencies launched an inquiry into the collision, and all efforts were being made to track down the merchant vessel. “Four naval frigates and a Dornier aircraft have been deployed to search the area,” he said.