A petrol tanker with a crew of 22 Indians has been missing for the past two days, Mid-Day reported on Saturday. The MT Marine Express, owned by the Hong Kong-based Anglo-Eastern Ship Management, was last contacted when it was off the West African nation of Benin. It was carrying 13,500 tonnes of petrol worth $8.1 million(Rs 51.95 crore).
“Authorities have been alerted and are responding,” the company said in a statement. “Our top priority is the safety of the crew, whose families have been contacted.”
Awunga Shatsang Prem Ramyo, an Assistant Attaché at the Indian High Commission in Abuja, Nigeria, told The New Indian Express that the vessel was last heard from on January 31 when it had docked at Cotonou in Benin. The shipping company, however, said that the last contact was at 9 am (Indian Standard Time) on February 1. Later, the satellites attempted to track the ship but failed to locate it.
The Gulf of Guinea, off Cotonou, is known for a high risk of piracy, Maritime Executive reported. On January 9, the British shipping firm Union Maritime lost contact with the product tanker Barrett, which was at anchor off Cotonou. Pirates had hijacked the Barrett, and held her crew members captive for six days while a “resolution process” was worked out. The pirates later let the crew and the vessel go.