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Navy saves 55 alleged illegal immigrants

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On July 10, 2022, the Sri Lankan Navy saved 55 people from a distressed local multiday fishing trawler that had been caught in a cyclone in rough seas about 390 nautical miles (722 km) southeast of Hambantota.

The group of persons, who were thought to be attempting illegal migration to a foreign nation, were in a dire state when they were rescued at sea. This morning, the rescued group was taken to the port of Hambantota by the Sri Lanka Navy (12th July).

Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) Colombo established at the Navy Headquarters was notified on July 8 that a multi-day fishing boat in trouble was adrift in rough seas southeast of Hambantota and needed assistance. The Navy quickly sent the Sri Lanka Navy Ship (SLNS) Parakramabahu to the area of the sea where the incident was reported to conduct a search and rescue operation in response to the need for help.

As a result, on the morning of July 10, an SLN ship arrived at the fishing trawler in distress and inspected it. The Navy discovered the multi-day fishing boat was drifting very dangerously in rough sea conditions during the inspection and saved the desperate group of persons aboard who are believed to be trying to emigrate illegally to another country. They included 46 men, including 5 human traffickers, 3 women, and 6 kids. They were swiftly taken ashore by SLNS Parakramabahu following their rescue.

A closer look revealed that the fishing trawler had been caught in a cyclone and was in danger of sinking due to flooding from the sea and hull damage. Furthermore, it was noted that several members of the group were in critical condition without food and drink when they were rescued after being stuck in rough seas for several days. These folks received the first aid and amenities they required from the Navy, which also transported them to the port of Hambantota. The troubled multiday fishing trawler, meanwhile, could not be towed due to significant water seepage, so it was left behind.

The individuals detained range in age from three to 54 and are citizens of Trincomalee, Mannar, Vavuniya, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu, Jaffna, and Kalpitiya. The Hambantota Harbour Police will receive them for further legal action.

In order to make quick money, human smugglers conduct these kinds of sea excursions on risky, outdated multi-day fishing trawlers. The Navy urges the general population to avoid falling victim to human trafficking schemes and attempting to leave the country illegally by putting their own lives in danger.

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