Cargo ship, MV Bingo, is believed to have sunk 20 nautical miles off Sagar Island near West Bengal. The ship, with 19 Chinese and one Indonesian crew member on board, was on its way to China from the Haldia port when Phailin, the cyclonic storm, hit the coasts of Orissa and Andhra on Saturday.
Kolkata Port Trust chairman RPS Kahlon said the ship left Haldia on October 8 and then left the Sagar anchorage on October 11 for China.
The ship was carrying 8,000 tonne of iron ore.
The port lost track of the ship on October 12 night, though the crew members were last tracked on a life boat east of the Sagar Island the same night.
Although the Indian Coast Guard is looking for both the ship and its crew with a Dornier aircraft and a hovercraft, it has not been able to locate it yet.
“The crew I believe is alive and they must have taken shelter in a shallow water area,” Kahlon said.
“There was no distress call from the crew either to the KoPT or to the Coast Guard before the ship disappeared. It might have so happened that the ship lost connection,” Kahlon said.
A KoPT official on the condition of anonymity said all the eastern coastal ports were given alerts about Phailin and ships were asked to remain off the harbours near the open sea following international practices.
“It is not clear why was the ship sailing when there was an alert of an approaching storm,” the official said, adding that there were a number ships stranded on the open sea when the storm broke but there has been no damage reported about any of the ships. Although KoPT’s director marine AK Bagchi and manager marine operations SN Choubey did not want to say anything on whether the ship was asked to remain stranded or was allowed to sail, questions are being raised whether the ship was fit to be in the deep waters.