Merchant ship with 22 Indian crew members goes missing off Benin

5 February 2018 (Last Updated February 5th, 2018 12:59)

A merchant ship carrying 22 Indian crew members on-board has been reported missing off the Coast of Benin in the Gulf of Guinea, near West Africa.

A merchant ship carrying 22 Indian crew members on-board has been reported missing off the Coast of Benin in the Gulf of Guinea, near West Africa.

The Panama-registered vessel, Marine Express, was carrying 13,500t of gasoline when it lost contact with ground staff on 1 February 2018, reported BBC.

The ship is managed by Hong Kong-based Anglo-Eastern.

"The Panama-registered vessel, Marine Express, was carrying 13,500t of gasoline when it lost contact with ground staff on 1 February 2018."

According to the International Maritime Bureau, the Benin Navy has launched a search operation in order to find the missing vessel.

India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj also announced that the Government of India was in touch with authorities in the region to help search for Marine Express.

Swaraj said in a tweet: “We are making all out efforts in coordination with Nigerian and Benin naval authorities to trace the missing ship. We have set up a Helpline no.(+234)9070343860.”

Marine Express is feared to have been abducted by pirates as the region where the ship went missing is noted to be plagued by frequent incidents of piracy.

A Directorate General of Shipping, India, official was quoted by Press trust of India as saying: “The region has a history of piracy and it may be a case of suspected piracy.

“All communication with the vessel has been lost, and right now we do not know if a ransom call has been made.”

The latest incident follows less than a month after another vessel was abducted by pirates in the Gulf of Guinea.