The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Sunday informed that an oil tanker with 22 Indian nationals onboard is presumably missing off the coast of Benin in the Gulf of Guinea. MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar in a tweet said, “A merchant vessel Marine Express (oil tanker), owned by Mumbai-based Anglo-Eastern shipping company with 22 Indian nationals onboard, is presumably missing off the coast of Benin in the Gulf of Guinea.” He informed that the Indian authorities based in Nigeria have sought the country’s help in locating the missing oil tanker.
“Our Mission in Abuja (Nigeria) is in touch with the authorities in Benin and Nigeria for their help in locating the ship and is constantly monitoring the situation. A 24-hour helpline number set up by the Embassy for information on those missing is +234-9070343860,” he informed in another tweet. The owners of the tanker, which was loaded with gas oil, have urged the Directorate General of Shipping in Mumbai to get in touch with their counterparts in Nigeria and Benin to carry out search operations for the merchant ship.
According to reports, the ship vanished from West Africa and a possibility of hijack is high. Meanwhile, Nigerian authorities have alerted all boats to look out for the missing tanker ship and if sighted to report to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) Anti-Piracy Reporting Centre immediately in London.