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Oil tanker with 22 Indian sailors rescued

An oil tanker, with an all Indian crew of 22 members that went missing off the coast of Benin in north-west Africa, has been released by pirates, confirmed External Affairs Minister (EAM) Sushma Swaraj. 

The EAM took to Twitter and wrote. “I am happy to inform that Merchant Ship (oil tanker) Marine Express with 22 Indian nationals on board has been released.” 

All 22 Indian crew members were safe and its cargo of 13,500 metric tons (15,120 tons) of gasoline remained on board. 

“A full investigation will take place into the hijack of the vessel and Anglo Eastern wishes to express its gratitude to the officers and crew of the Marine Express and their families for their courage and fortitude in dealing with this difficult situation over the past 6 days,” the statement said.

“The ship, Marine Express, has been released and is back under the command of the captain,” Director General of Shipping Malini Shankar told. 

Swaraj also thanked the Governments of Nigeria and Benin for their constant help and support in locating the oil tanker and ensuring its safe passage. 

“We thanks, Governments of Nigeria and Benin for their help and support,” she wrote on Twitter. 

MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar informed that the Indian authorities based in Nigeria have sought the country’s help in locating the missing oil tanker. 

According to initial reports, the ship vanished from West Africa amidst possibility of hijack by the pirates.  

The region near Benin, especially the Gulf of Guinea, is known to be pirate-infested, and several ships have been targeted.