NEW DELHI, Jan 2 � A suspicious Pakistani fishing boat exploded into a ball of fire off the Gujarat coast and sank after it was intercepted by the Coast Guard, the government said today, reports IANS.
The dramatic incident took place on the night of December 31-Janauary 1, and the Coast Guard�s Deputy Director General KR Nautiyal said he suspected �something serious�.
He told the media that the boat first tried to get away after a Coast Guard ship asked it to halt for a check of its crew and goods. After six hours, it switched off its lights early Thursday just inside the Indian waters.
The crew members, four of whom were spotted, then went to the deck below. It then blew up, indicating it may have been carrying explosives.
A Defence Ministry statement said the Pakistani boat, which had set off from near Karachi, Pakistan�s southern port city, was planning �some illicit transaction�. Its destination was unknown.
The Coast Guard and the Navy got into the act following an intelligence tip about a suspicious Pakistani boat.
The boat was spotted by a Dornier aircraft and intercepted by Coast Guard ships near the India-Pakistan maritime boundary, 365 km from Porbandar in Gujarat, shortly before the onset of New Year.
A Coast Guard ship warned the boat to stop for investigation but it increased speed and tried to get away.
� A hot pursuit continued for nearly one hour, and the Coast Guard ship managed to stop the fishing boat after firing warning shots,� the statement said.
�Four persons were seen on the boat who disregarded all warnings by the Coast Guard ship to stop and cooperate with investigation.�
The suspicious crew then hid themselves below the deck and set the vessel on fire, resulting in an explosion and a major fire. �Due to darkness, bad weather and strong winds, the boat and persons on board could not be saved or recovered. The boat burnt and sank in the same position in early hours of January 1,� the statement said.
The Coast Guard said that the boat sank at 6.33 am after being cornered in the sea.
�There must be something serious,� Deputy Director General KR Nautiyal said. �There must be something serious.�