Two dozen Indian sailors missing following suspected pirate attack
An oil tanker carrying US $8.1-million worth of gasoline and an all-Indian crew of 22 has gone missing off the coast of Africa, prompting fears that it has been hijacked by pirates.
The tanker Marine Express was last known to be at anchor at Cotonou, Benin on the evening of January 31st, by 2.30am the following morning, its AIS transponder was switched off and the ship was no longer in the anchorage.
It is suspected that Marine Express might have been hijacked by pirates, like the ship that disappeared last month on the same stretch of the West African coast.
MT Barret, went missing off the coast of Benin at the beginning of January. Two days after its disappearance, it was confirmed that it been hijacked. The ship had a crew of 22, most of whom were Indians. They were released for ransom six days later.
The Nigerian Navy and Coast Guard has reportedly launched a search for the ship, while Anglo Eastern Ship Management, the company that operates the vessel on behalf of its owners, has reportedly hired MTI Network - a world-leading crisis response network dedicated to serving the shipping, energy, offshore and transportation industry.
The Indian government has also confirmed that it is working with its contacts in Nigeria and Benin to find out what happened to the ship.
"We have received the information and have already alerted all the required agencies, who are looking for the missing vessel,” B R Shekar, chief surveyor and director general of the Directorate General of Shipping (DGS) told the media.