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The group of six fishermen having their first meal after returning safely to the shore near Gangavaram, on Wednesday.

Six fishermen who went missing at sea on the evening of April 1 returned ashore in the early hours of Wednesday (April 3) morning, clinging on to their capsized boat for nearly 25 hours without food and water.

The group of six set out on their fishing voyage in their motorised boat from the city harbour at around 2 p.m. on April 1 and travelled 20 km into the sea. At around 4 p.m., they anchored their boat and cast their net, and rested for some time.

Around midnight, they began pulling the catch back into the boat. “We caught fish worth around ₹20,000. At around 2 a.m., on April 2 (Tuesday), we decided to return to the shore with our catch,” said Mylapalli Mahesh, one of the fishermen.

“That was when our troubles began. As soon we fired up the engine, the boat lurched out of control and overturned. We were thrown into the water. Everything aboard the boat sunk, including the catch and our fishing net. We frantically swam towards the boat and clung on to it,” said Mr. Mahesh.

“Our boat then drifted for a further 20 km into the sea. By then, we lost all hope of making it back alive,” said Vasupalli Appanna.

“Our phones were gone and we had no food or even drinking water. Slowly, the tide turned and the boat started floating towards land. We then took a large plastic sheet that was stuck to the boat and used it as a sail, in order to try and navigate the drifting boat towards land. After what seemed like an interminable ordeal, we finally reached land near the Gangavaram village at around 3 a.m. on Wednesday (April 3),” Mr. Appanna said.

“We strongly believe that we survived only due to divine intervention. The boat sank as soon as we neared the shore. We have faced storms at sea before, but never experienced such a situation,” said Narendra, another fisherman.

The six fishermen have been identified as Kari Chinna Rao, Vasupalli Appanna, Kari Chinna Sattaiah, Kari Narendra, Vasupalli Pudugu Appanna and Mylapalli Mahesh. They live near the fishing harbour, and hail from Mukkam village of Bhogapuram mandal in Vizianagaram district. All of them suffered minor injuries and are recuperating at home.

Local MLA Vasupalli Ganesh Kumar of the ruling YSRCP met the fishermen at the Fisheries Department Office after their return and assured them of all possible support from the government.

Vamsi Krishna Srinivas, who is contesting on a JSP ticket from Visakha South constituency, also met the fishermen.

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