Mumbai: In a late night rescue in difficult weather conditions, 20 crew members of a drifting merchant vessel were picked up by a Sea King chopper of the Indian Navy.
Another chopper was sent on Monday morning to bring back the ship's captain, who had stayed on board.
Late on Sunday night, the crew had sent a distress message about "extremely bad weather" and communicated that the ship, Jindal Kamakshi, was listing precariously to one side off the Mumbai coast.
"Information was received around midnight by the Indian Navy that a vessel in distress Jindal Kamakshi which was 40 nautical miles from Mumbai harbour and 25 nautical miles off Vasai coast had listed heavily," a Defence spokesperson said.
"The distress message said the vessel listed heavily, with 20 persons on-board and requested assistance," the official said.
The merchant vessel was carrying 248 containers and some of them, each weighing 30 ton, had tilted to one side. The captain tried to pump in water to balance the vessel but it didn't help and the rough sea made it worse.
The crew requested immediate evacuation. The navy sent a Sea King 42C helicopter to bring the men.
"Our ship was heading towards Kochi when turbulence erupted. Due to a storm our ship tilted to one side. I had to save lives of the crew so I requested the naval authorities to save our lives," said the captain, Mahinder Pal Prabhakar.