An oil tanker with 22 Indian sailors on board has gone missing off the coast of Benin in West Africa.
The Hong Kong-based owners of the MT Marine Express, Anglo Eastern Ship Management, lost contact with the vessel on January 31.
It is suspected that the tanker, carrying 13,500 tonnes of gasoline worth $8.1mn, might have been hijacked by pirates.
The vessel's last recorded location was at the port of Coutonou in Benin. The next day, it went missing from anchorage in the Gulf of Guinea.
The entire crew is Indian.
The Nigerian Navy and Coast Guard are carrying out aerial searches.
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.— Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) February 3, 2018
According to Maritime Bulletin, the Marine Express went missing from the same area where another tanker, the MT Barrett, had been hijacked on January 9.
The crew and the vessel were released after a week, reportedly after the owners Union Maritime paid ransom.
The owners and other stakeholders often don't disclose details of such incidents to ensure the crew's safety.
Raveesh Kumar, the official MEA spokesperson, has urged people to call on the 24-hour helpline set up by the Indian Embassy in Nigeria to provide any information on those missing. The Embassy can be contacted at +234-9070343860.
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