Govt working on steps to rescue captured Indian sailors

Last Updated: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - 17:28

New Delhi: India on Wednesday said it is in
constant touch with its missions in Seychelles and Nairobi to
work out steps to rescue nearly 100 Indian sailors who were on
six dhows seized by pirates off Somalia`s coast.

"We are in constant touch with our Naval attache at
Seychelles and Nairobi for rescue operations of the Indian
crew and Gujarat-based vessels. As per latest information with
us eight ships have gone missing off Somalia`s coast and five
or six have been seized by pirates. The total number of crew
is 97," Director General Shipping, Government of India,
Lakshmi Venkatachalam said over phone from Mumbai.

"About eight cargo vessels from Gujarat were reported
missing on Saturday off the Somalia coast including from areas
where they were prohibited to tread as per our sources",
Venkatachalam said.

She said the Government is trying to locate the
whereabouts of about eight missing vessels and had taken a
series of steps for the rescue operation. The exact location
of the vessels, she said, could not be revealed but
information indicated that vessels had reached some ports
which were not allowed for traders.

Normally, if merchant ships go missing there are
electronic alert systems, recording etc but these were
different type of vessels and information about these have
reached us from local sources, she added

Venkatachalam said the Government has issued a
notification prohibiting Indian Sailing vessels (Dhows) to
trade in piracy infested areas.

"Recent reports of Indian Mechanized sailing vessels
(Dhows) missing or attacked by pirates, off the coast of
Somalia have raised concern regarding the safety and security
of such vessels engaged on trade in these areas," the
notification said.

The risks involved in the piracy infested areas around
Somalia are well known and trading of Indian Dhows in such
areas exposes the lives of Indian seafarers sailing on
these vessels to danger. Further, the Directorate has received
reports that such hijacked Dhows may be used by the pirates
for carrying out piracy attacks on merchant vessels, it added.

Shipping Secretary K Mohandas said that so far there
were no further updates on the fate of the nearly 100 Indian
crew members taken hostage by the pirates.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - 17:28

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