The Coast Guard and Saudi Aramco saved 11 Indian seamen Tuesday from a cargo tugboat that caught fire off Jubail in the Eastern Province.
The boat had departed from the Kasphap port in Oman on Monday with some 800 goats and was headed to Kuwait via Saudi waters.
Col. Khaled Al-Arqubi, a Coast Guard spokesman in the Eastern Province, told Arab News on Thursday: “The Coast Guard received information from Saudi Aramco stating that a boat had caught fire near the island of Karan, Aramco’s offshore gas field, with 11 Indian sailors on board.”
Al-Arqubi said that Aramco officials and members of the Coast Guard went out on several boats and attempted to extinguish the fire, but the burning boat sank.
The boat’s captain, Salim Karim Sanghar, who hails from Jamnagar in Gujarat, told Arab News that “the engineer on board saw flames coming from the boat’s engine. Six of the crewmembers were asleep, while others were on the job at the time of the incident. The boat contained bundles of grass for feeding the goats, which went up in flames. The boat was completely engulfed and had no choice but to jump into the water for safety.”
The survivors were transferred onto a rescue boat and moved to Jubail on Wednesday.
Sanghar praised Saudi authorities, including Saudi Aramco, for their humanitarian approach and timely assistance.
“Saudi Aramco sailors gave us clothes and Saudi coastguards gave us food and a place to stay at their base in Jubail,” he added. “I hope to be able to get home as soon as possible.”
Al-Arqubi said that two crewmembers were injured and were taken to Jubail General Hospital for treatment, and they are in stable condition.
Meanwhile, procedures for the repatriation of the sailors are underway.
“The Indian Embassy is following up on the case and Sibi George, India’s deputy chief of mission in Riyadh, has dispatched Mohammed Imdad Alam, an embassy officer, to the Jubail port to meet the sailors and arrange for their repatriation,” said Shamsudheen Chettippadi, an Indian social worker who met the sailors and coastguard officials in Jubail.