The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) rescued 182 pilgrims who were stranded on a ferry after it ran aground off West Bengal’s Kakdwip on Tuesday. The merchant vessel named ‘Swasthya Sathi’ was ferrying about 400 pilgrims from the Gangasagar Mela at Sagar Island to Kakdwip when it ran aground due to poor visibility.
The operations team of the ICG received a message about the ferry from the District Magistrate of South 24 Parganas during the early hours of Tuesday and immediately dispatched two Air Cushion Vehicles (hovercrafts) to assist. The hovercraft evacuated the 182 pilgrims before guiding the ferry with the remaining pilgrims to a safe destination.
To ensure the safety of people during the annual mela, the ICG deployed sea-borne units at various strategic locations.
A rapid lifesaving action team of divers was also positioned at the site of the mela. An officer from the ICG Ship Frazerganj was deployed on Sagar Island for coordination with the state administration and supervision of seafront safety aspects.
Gangasagar Mela is one of the most popular melas held in Sagardwip, West Bengal. It is usually held during winter and the fair attracts thousands of pilgrims, where they take a holy dip in the river Ganges.
The Gangasagar pilgrimage is the second largest after the Kumbh Mela, which is held once in four years. According to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, more than 70 lakh people visited the Gangasagar Mela this year.