Freed merchant vessel crew safely proceeding to Oman: Government

June 15th, 2011 - 6:35 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 15 (IANS) The Indian government Wednesday allayed fears of a fresh threat to an Egyptian merchant vessel that has been freed by Somali pirates, saying that the ship and its crew of 22, including six Indians, was proceeding safely to Salalah in Oman.

“MV Suez, which was released by pirates on June 13 is proceeding safely to Salalah. The ship is carrying a crew of 22 persons, out of which six are Indian nationals,” government sources said here, adding the ship is likely to enter Salalah by Friday morning.

The ship was sailing towards Salalah at a speed of 12 knots, the sources added.

Some family members of the Indian crew on board MV Suez had claimed that the ship came under a fresh pirate attack early Wednesday morning and that Indian government had done nothing to provide security to the ship that is moving away from the Somali coast after being freed by the pirates.

They had also noted that a Pakistani warship, PNS Babar, was heading for the coordinates of MV Suez to escort it to Salalah.

Earlier this month, the sources said, the Indian Navy had recommended that on release of the ship, the owners of MV Suez provide a tug for technical support and an armed “Vessel Protection Detachment” be embarked on the ship to against any threats.

“This is the international norm in all such cases,” the sources said.

To provide a measure of assurance to the crew of MV Suez, the Indian Navy is actively coordinating with other navies to monitor the situation during the passage to Salalah, the sources said.

The 22 crew and the merchant vessel were released by the pirates after a ransom of $2.1 million was facilitated by Pakistani rights activist Ansar Burney, Sampa Arya, wife of Ravinder Gulia, 30, one of the hostages and resident of Haryana’s Rohtak town, had said Tuesday in Chandigarh.

MV Suez was hijacked by pirates in the Gulf of Aden Aug 2, 2010. The six Indian crew members are likely to reach home later this month.

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