Kollam: A 38-year-old fisherman was left to the mercy of the sea for 18 hours after he fell off the boat in the wee hours of Saturday. Samuel, a native of the coastal village of Alappad in Kerala's Kollam district, has luckily lived to tell the tale of his miraculous escape later that night after an arduous struggle to swim to safety.
Samuel was part of a 10-member group on board the boat, Deepthi, which left Sakthikulangara on Friday night.
Initially, he was sleeping on a box kept near the bow. Other crew too were also asleep.
As it became cold by 4am, Samuel decided to sleep inside. But when he got up, he fell into the sea. He screamed out but none heard. Meanwhile, the boat sailed ahead. Samuel then tried to swim towards the boat. But his movements were hampered by the wet pair of clothes.
He then removed his t-shirt and shorts. He kept on swimming but his limbs started aching. He then stayed afloat on the water surface for some time. He resumed swimming after a while, this time on his back.
"I was hoping that some passing boat would spot me. I prayed for my life," he recounted.
"An entire day passed away like this. From the sun's position, I calculated the time to be around 5pm. I feared for my life as there was no boat in sight. I screamed out loud in despair. But who was there to hear?" Samuel said with a shudder.
But Samuel did not lose courage and swam to the east. By then it was night. Several hours passed away and finally he spotted a boat faraway. He called out loud. They spotted Samuel.
When the crew of the boat, Yesu Aaradhyan, rescued Samuel, the time was 10.30pm. It had been 18 hours since he fell into the sea. The boat reached the shores by 12.30am.
Samuel, who was by then in a frail condition, was rushed to the district hospital.
All this while, the Coast Guard and other fishermen were searching for Samuel. However, they had wrongly identified the spot where Samuel had fell.