At least 22 Indian sailors, who were onboard the oil tanker, Marine Express, have been rescued, confirmed External Affairs Minister (EAM) Sushma Swaraj.
The EAM took to Twitter and wrote. “I am happy to inform that Merchant Ship (oil tanker) Marine Express with 22 Indian nationals on board has been released.”
Swaraj also thanked the Governments of Nigeria and Benin for their constant help and support in locating the oil tanker and ensuring its safe passage.
“We thanks (sic) Governments of Nigeria and Benin for their help and support,” she wrote on the micro-blogging site.
On Sunday, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) informed that an oil tanker with 22 Indian nationals onboard was presumably missing off the coast of Benin in the Gulf of Guinea.
MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar in a tweet had 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,” he informed in another tweet, adding that a 24-hour helpline was set up for information on then missing Indians.
The owners of the tanker, which was loaded with gas oil 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 initial reports, the ship vanished from West Africa amidst possibility of hijack by the pirates.