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An oil tanker with 22 Indians onboard is presumed to be missing off Benin coast in the Gulf of Guinea near West Africa, the Ministry of External Affairs said. The missing merchant vessel is owned by  Mumbai-based Anglo Eastern shipping company.

MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted that the Indian mission in the Nigerian capital Abuja is in contact with authorities in Nigeria and Benin. The two countries are coordinating efforts to locate the missing vessel and are monitoring the situation.

The Anglo Eastern shipping company has requested the Directorate General of Shipping in Mumbai to get in touch with the Nigerian and Beninese authorities to conduct search operations for the missing vessel which was carrying gas oil, reported news agency ANI.  The agency, citing reports, said that there is a “high possibility” that the ship might have been hijacked by pirates off west Africa.

Meanwhile, Nigerian authorities have instructed all boats to report to the International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) Anti-Piracy Reporting Centre in London if they come in contact with the Marine Express.

Later in the day, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said the government was making all-out efforts in coordination with Nigerian and Benin naval authorities to trace the missing ship. The minister also tweeted out a helpline number for any information. “Merchant Ship Marine Express with 22 Indian nationals is missing off the Coast of Benin in the Gulf of Guinea. We are making all out efforts in coordination with Nigerian and Benin naval authorities to trace the missing ship.

Source: indianexpress.com