Thursday, November 30, 2023

40 boats gutted in Vizag fishing harbour blaze

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At least 40 mechanised boats were destroyed in a massive fire that broke out at the fishing harbour in the city on Sunday midnight. The blaze, suspected to have originated from one of the boats, quickly spread to others nearby, resulting in a significant financial loss for the boat owners.
The fishing harbour, the largest in Andhra Pradesh, is home to approximately 1,100 boats. Reports from fishermen and local police indicate that the fire erupted among the 500 boats anchored at the time, affecting approximately 100 of them. Janakiram, president of the AP Mechanised Boat Owners’ Welfare Association, told The Pioneer, “We could save 60 boats, which were partially damaged, but 40 have been completely gutted.” Each boat is estimated to cost between Rs 60 to Rs 80 lakh, making the overall financial impact substantial.
Heart-wrenching scenes unfolded at the harbour as firefighters battled the inferno, and distressed fishermen looked on as their livelihoods went up in smoke. The situation escalated further with sporadic blasts in some of the boats, believed to be caused by the flames reaching fuel tanks and the explosion of LPG cylinders, inducing panic in the vicinity.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) K Anand Reddy reported that five fire tenders were deployed to bring the fire under control. Fortunately, there are no reports of casualties. The operation to extinguish the flames concluded by 4.30 am on Monday and the extent of the damage is currently being assessed. A case has been filed, and investigations are underway to unravel the circumstances leading to the incident.
Fishermen at the site have alleged sabotage by unidentified miscreants as the cause behind the catastrophic fire.
A source within the Visakhapatnam Port Authority (VPA), speaking on the condition of anonymity, said fishermen in the area utilise small LPG cylinders for cooking during voyages and while anchored. It is speculated that the fire could have been triggered by a cooking-related accident or, during celebratory activities, a fire might have ignited the fuel tank and other inflammable materials on one of the vessels.
Expressing shock over the fire accident, Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has ordered an inquiry into the mishap and directed Fisheries Minister S. Appala Raju to visit the accident site and instructed officials to provide financial support to the fishermen who lost their boats in the tragedy.
Vizag South MLA Vasupalli Ganesh visited the site of the accident, inspected the burnt fishing boats, and extended full support to all boat owners. He directed police officials to conduct a thorough investigation to determine the cause of the accident.
Fishermen’s organisations are calling for immediate relief in the aftermath of the incident, citing heavy damage to boats and a significant loss of livelihood for both boat owners and crew members who depend on voyages for their survival. The fishing harbor, under the administrative control of VPA, is a critical economic centre for the region, and the impact of this incident is expected to have far-reaching consequences.

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