End of ordeal: Indians on MV Suez reach Karachi
The sailors of MV Suez reached Karachi harbour by Pakistan`s PNS Zulfiqar.
New Delhi: Ending a ten-month-long ordeal, the sailors of MV Suez, on Thursday, reached Karachi harbour by Pakistan`s PNS Zulfiqar amidst an emotional welcome.
The Egyptian cargo vessel which had 22-member crew, including six Indians, four Pakistanis, one Sri Lankan and 11 Egyptians, was hijacked by Somali pirates last October.
As the report reaches back home in India, there is a sense of joy and excitement among the family members of the released Indian sailors.
"My happiness knows no bounds. I last spoke to my husband when he was getting on to the Pakistani ship as MV Suez was sinking," an overjoyed Madhu Sharma, wife of sailor NK Sharma, said.
Shamsher Singh, father of another sailor Satnam Singh said that he had lost hope for the return of his son.
"I had lost hope completely. But After I spoke to Ansar Burney in April, my hope was rekindled," he said.
The sailors onboard MV Suez, were shifted to Pakistan`s PNS Babar after the vessel developed a technical snag. The crews were transferred from PNS Babar to another warship, PNS Zulfiqar, for the voyage to Pakistan.
PNS Babar is currently deployed for a counter-piracy operation in the Gulf of Aden and hence could not sail to Pakistan, reports say.
The Pakistan Navy launched the Operation Umeed-e-Nuh (New Hope) to rescue the crew members after MV Suez Captain Wasi Hasan requested for evacuation of his crew to save their lives.
After a ten-month long captivity, MV Suez was released by Somali pirates last week when a ransom of USD 2.1 million was reportedly paid to the pirates. Pakistani Human Rights Activist and former federal minister Ansar Burney played a key role in the negotiations with the pirates for getting the hostages released.
Suhail Izaz Khan, Counselor from the Indian High Commission in Islamabad was there at Karachi dockyard to receive the sailors on their arrival.
Sending a message of love to India, Governor of Sindh province Ishrat Ul Ebad Khan said, “I hope that India too will reciprocate with love because Indian sailors have also been saved".
It has not been ascertained so far as to what arrangements were being made by Pakistani authorities to repatriate the foreign members of the Suez`s crew after their arrival in Karachi.
The Indians could be sent back home soon through Wagah border, report says.
Another report suggests all the crew members (except the Pakistanis) could be flown back home via Dubai.
The Pakistan Navy had launched the Operation Umeed-e-Nuh (New Hope) to rescue the crew members after MV Suez captain Wasi Hasan requested their evacuation to save their lives.
The Egyptian-owned merchant vessel was in a "considerably deteriorated operational and material state" after being held by the pirates for about 10 months, the Pakistan Navy said.
The crew "was weak and suffering from various ailments", the Pakistan Navy said.
On June 17, the ship`s fuel was exhausted while it was 100 nautical miles short of the Omani port of Salalah.
Though a tug was arranged for towing the vessel to Salalah, the tug too developed a defect and the towing plan was abandoned.
India and Pakistan had traded angry charges over an incident involving their warships that were sent to help the MV Suez.
Pakistan alleged that the Indian warship INS Godavari had brushed against the PNS Babar.
India denied the allegation and said the PNS Babar was responsible for the incident as it carried out dangerous manoeuvers.