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Turkish cargo ship with 24 Indians hijacked off Gabon coast

Mumbai, PTI | Updated : 18 July 2013, 02:00 PM

A Turkish oil-chemical tanker with an all Indian crew of 24 has been hijacked by pirates off the coast of the West African nation Gabon.

MV Cotton, the Malta-flagged vessel, was taken over by suspected pirates 15 miles off the Gentil Port early on Monday, a statement from V Ships, the crew manager for the vessel owned by a Turkish company, said.

The oil products and chemical tanker lost contact with its Turkish owner 'Geden Lines' after leaving Port Gentil in Gabon early Monday morning, an official at Turkey's foreign ministry in Ankara was quoted by media reports as saying.

Satellite data showed the vessel heading northwards towards Nigeria early yesterday, the official added.

Later in the day, Geden told Turkish officials that the vessel may have redirected its course towards the Ivory Coast, the foreign ministry said.

"The ship was hijacked during night. All officials were informed about the hijack. Unfortunately, the ship is sailing now. There is no contact with the crew. We are cooperating with Cameroon and Nigeria," Ahmet Riza Demirer, Turkish Ambassador to Gabon, was quoted by media reports as saying.

The Foreign Ministry official said Demirer is in contact with local authorities about the matter and Geden Lines has reached out to ambassadors in Gabon, Ghana and the Ivory Coast.

Captain Shishir Wahi,54, took over the command of the vessel on July 12.

"Basically, the company has not got any news. We spoke to them on Tuesday, they have been really cooperative, they have been staying in touch with us. But we haven't got any new news," Richa Wahi, Captain Wahi's daughter told a TV channel from Kolkata.

"All we know is that pirates have taken over the ship and they are probably not around anymore. They have probably sailed away from Gabon but we have no other news as yet," she said.

The 2007-built ship was awaiting berthing in the Gulf of Guinea at the time of the hijack, V Ships said. The vessel has a gross tonnage of 23,248 tonne and is 184 metre long.

Officials at the Directorate General of Shipping in Mumbai confirmed the incident but said they are awaiting further details.

Information on the cargo which the ship was carrying and the voyage details were not immediately available.

First Published: Thursday, July 18, 2013 01:55 PM
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