Oil tanker with 22 Indian sailors goes missing off west African coast

The ship is suspected to have been hijacked by pirates in Gulf of Guinea off the coast of Benin.

MUMBAI: An oil tanker with 22 Indian sailors on board is reported missing off the coast of Benin, a west African country for last three days. It is suspected that the MT Marine Express carrying 13,500 tonne of gasoline may have been hijacked by pirates.

Relatives of one of the sailors Sree Unni, a resident of Kasargode in north Kerala, said the Mumbai-based Anglo Eastern Ship Management which owns the ship informed them that they lost contact with the ship since Jan 31. Worried relatives have sought the help of Ministry of Shipping which later said they were in touch with their counterparts in Nigeria and other African counties to help locate the ship.

This is the second ship to go missing in the last one month. In January, another vessel MT Barret had gone missing off the coast of Benin and six days later crew, most of them Indians, were released after reportedly paying ransom.

"We fear the worst. We are in touch with the MEA also," said one of the relatives of Unni.

Anglo Eastern Ship Management said in a tweet that the crew's safety was its top priority.

The ship was anchored at Cotonou, Benin before it missing from anchorage in the Gulf of Guinea. The Panama-registered vessel was carrying 13,500 tonnes of petrol worth $8.1 million.



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