Feb. 4 (UPI) — An oil tanker carrying 22 Indian crew members and thousands of tons of gas was reported missing off the coast of West Africa Sunday, India’s foreign ministry said.
The merchant vessel Marine Express went missing off the coast of Benin in the Gulf of Guinea, India’s foreign minister Sushma Swaraj announced on Twitter.
“We are making all out efforts in coordination with Nigerian and Benin naval authorities to trace the missing ship,” Swaraj said.
She added a 24-hour hotline has also been established as part of the search operations.
Hong Kong-based shipping company Anglo-Eastern, which owns the ship, said contact was last made with the vessel on Thursday.
“All the appropriate authorities have been alerted and are responding,” the company said. “Our first priority is of course the safety of the 22 crew members on board, whose families have been contacted and informed of the situation.”
It is believed the ship, carrying 13,500 tons of gasoline may have been hijacked by pirates, India Today reported.
Nigeria’s Coast Guard is also on the lookout for the ship.