Mumbai: 35 escape from sinking yacht in the Arabian Sea
Those onboard a ferry nearby rushed to rescue them; organisers allegedly did not have permission to hold a party on board the Tyche yacht
A major tragedy was avoided on Sunday evening, when a yacht with more than 35 people on board, began sinking in the Arabian Sea. Fortunately, those on board a ferry boat nearby that was headed towards the Gateway of India from the Elephanta Caves, heard the screams of its passengers and rescued them. There were 30 people and five crew members on the yacht that had been hired for a party from the organisers who did not allegedly have permission for the same.
According to sources, the yacht called Tyche, a catamaran was carrying 30 guests and 5 staff for a party in the Arabian sea. On Sunday around 5 pm, the yacht started taking in water due to leakage. Those on the last Ashtavinayak boat ferrying passengers from Elephanta to the Gateway of India heard the people screaming for help.
"We were almost 1.6 nautical miles away from the yacht which was sinking and passengers were screaming and raising their hands for help. We sped up the ferry and reached them in few minutes. There were around 30 to 35 people including the crew members (both male and female). We rescued all of them and took them to the Gateway of India," said a person associated with Ashtavinayak boat.
"After we rescued the people, the pilot of the boat took the help of those on other boats and towed the yacht to the dock near Gateway. The passengers whom we rescued disappeared once they reached Gateway. The yacht is in pathetic condition but was used by them for holding parties," he added.
'No police permission'
When this reporter contacted the numbers available on the organiser's, Yacht Getaway's Mumbai website, to hire a boat for a party in the Arabian sea, the person on the phone line gave several options for a party with liquor, without police permission.
When asked about hiring the Tyche, he confirmed that it sank on Sunday. "We organise boat parties without trouble from the police, though we don't take their permission for this. If the police ask about the details, then we deal with them," he said.
The person claimed that they organise the parties by bribing the cops and remain within their jurisdiction: i e five nautical miles in the sea from the coast, as beyond that starts the jurisdiction of the Coast Guard.
After the 26/11 terror attacks, the Mumbai police did not grant permissions for boat parties in the Arabian Sea. But from 2012 they started granting these permissions if organisers approached them. It appears that those rescued from the Tyche feared that if they report the matter to the authorities, it would land them in legal trouble and hence fled. The Colaba police only made a diary entry about the incident.
Organisers don't respond
The yacht party organisers had been letting the vessel on hire for Rs 18,000 to Rs 30,000 per hour without valid permission. As per the website, yachtgetawaysmumbai.in, the 60-feet long Tyche had a capacity of 60 passengers plus three crew members, a large hall and adequate sitting arrangements. The organisers, Yacht Getaways Mumbai, didn't respond to the queries mailed to them about the incident. Despite repeated attempts, Pranay Ashok, the spokesperson for the Mumbai police, did not respond.
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