Government in touch with Indian missions over missing sailors

March 11th, 2008 - 3:15 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, March 11 (IANS) As the mystery over the disappearance of 25 Indian sailors aboard a cargo vessel three weeks ago deepens, the government has assured family members of the crew that it was in touch with Indian missions abroad and will extend all possible help to them. The government is, however, still trying to find out whether the missing sailors are alive or dead.

“We are in touch with our missions. It’s a terrible tragedy,” Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma said here Tuesday.

“We have instructed our missions to extend all possible assistance to the relatives of the sailors,” Sharma told reporters.

He added that the government was still trying to ascertain the facts about the incident. “Unless we hear from the maritime authorities and the governments concerned, we can’t confirm it,” he said when his attention was drawn to some media reports, which said all 25 missing sailors are dead.

Family members of the 25 Indian sailors aboard the Panamanian cargo vessel MV Rezzak went missing while it was on its way from Novorossiisk in Russia to Bartin in Turkey in the Black Sea after a spell of bad weather Feb 18.

The ship, managed by CMR Denizcilik ve Ticaret of Turkey and manned by Mumbai-based Pelican Marine, was carrying steel billets in bundles from Russia to Turkey when it lost communication with tracking centres.

Families of the crew have appealed to the government, saying not enough was being done to track the missing sailors. They are planning to submit a signed petition to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Pratibha Patil requesting the government’s intervention.

In a letter to family members of the crew, Pelican Marine Private Limited, the Mumbai-based recruitment firm, Monday said that all 25 crewmembers “have been lost unless there is anything to the contrary”.

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