Chennai: As Cyclone Nilam ravaged the coast of Chennai, five brave fishermen jumped into the sea to save sailors of MT Pratibha Cauvery from drowning. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has announced a cash reward for each of them. CNN-IBN met those brave souls.
The ominous cyclone warning for Nilam had just been sounded. K Gopi and his fishermen friends were along Chennai's Elliots beach, just locking themselves in their houses when they spotted the vessel, MT Pratibha Cauvery, giving out distress signals. The police were alerted, but came just in time to see a few sailors jumping off the ship into a lifeboat.
"I knew we could help. We decided to take our boat in and after consulting with the police and coastguard, we went in. Our families were scared and stopped us. But we told them that we can't watch people die in front of us. We had to do something," Gopi said.
The five of them went in on a single boat, without any second thoughts. They rescued five sailors in the first attempt even as the police, coastguard and curious public stood and watched in surprise.
Another fisherman V Vadivel said, "We know the sea. We know how it behaves. This is our home. When we saw them struggling, we could only think of saving their lives. We didn't think of whether we would be rewarded for it or not."
Their brave act hasn't gone unnoticed. The state government has honoured each of them with a Rs 1 lakh award. For the families of the sailors they saved, the fishermen will remain heroes forever. But this act of bravery will hopefully inspire several others for a long time to come.