Indian sailors on oil tanker, Hijacked by pirates, released

  • Indian sailors on oil tanker, Hijacked by pirates, released

Indian sailors on oil tanker, Hijacked by pirates, released

Pirates, who had seized an oil tanker with an all-Indian crew of 22 off the Benin coast in north-west Africa, on Tuesday released the vessel and its occupants after five days in captivity, officials said.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj took to Twitter to inform that she has spoken with Foreign Minister of Nigeria Geoffrey Onyeama and he assured to provide all the possible help.

The "Marine Express" continues to be missing in the piracy-plagued waters near West Africa, an official of the Mumbai-based Directorate General of Shipping (DGS) told PTI.

There is no information yet on whether a ransom was paid to secure the release of the vessel and the cargo.

Swaraj thanked the governments of Nigeria and Benin for their help. "We have set up a Helpline no.(+234) 9070343860", Swaraj said of her telephonic conversation with the Nigerian leader.

The vessel, Marine Express, was carrying more than 13,000 tons of gasoline and went missing in the Gulf of Guinea, according to a statement from the Anglo Eastern, the ship's managing company.

When contacted, Awunga Shatsang Prem Ramyo, assistant attaché in High Commission of India at Abuja, confirmed that the ship was hijacked.

The company said all the families of crew members have been advised of the situation.

Anglo-Eastern Ship Management said the Marine Express tanker with 22 Indian nationals on board "was hijacked by pirates on Feb 1", but is now back under command of the captain and crew.

Pirates operating in the Gulf of Guinea have seriously disrupted the worldwide shipping route, costing the global economy billions of dollars. The 22 crew members on its board were mostly Indians. Meanwhile, Nigerian authorities have alerted all boats to look out for the missing vessel and report to International Maritime Bureau Anti-Piracy Reporting Centre in London in event of any development.