The Ministry of External Affairs on Sunday said that the Indian mission in Abuja was in touch with the authorities in Nigeria and Benin about an oil tanker with 22 Indians on board that went missing in the Gulf of Guinea. The vessel was last contacted on Thursday.
The situation is being constantly monitored, MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said on Twitter. “A 24-hour helpline number set up by the Embassy for information on those missing is +234-9070343860,” he added.
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). The firm has requested the Directorate General of Shipping in Mumbai to get in touch with the Nigerian and Beninese authorities to carry out search operations for the missing vessel, reported The Indian Express.
The Gulf of Guinea, off Cotonou, is known for a high risk of piracy. 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 the crew members captive for six days while a “resolution process” was worked out. The pirates later let the crew and the vessel go.