24 January 2019
Bhubaneswar: Family members of the Odia sailor, who had gone missing after two ships carrying Indian, Turkish and Libyan crew caught fire in the Kerch Strait off Russia coast on Monday, are still waiting for his return.
At least 14 people have been reported dead in the incident and rescue teams' search operation is on for 10 missing sailors. While the deceased include six Indian sailors, six others including Siddharth Meher from Sambalpur district of Odisha are missing.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in a press release on Wednesday had stated, "Due to a shipping incident in the Black Sea involving two ships- the LPG/C Maestro and the LPG/C Candy on 21 January 2019, we regret to inform that there have been casualties among Indian seamen working on these ships. We convey our deepest condolences to families of those deceased."
Russian Maritime Agency and Maritime Rescue and Coordination Centre Novorossiysk are continuing efforts to locate those listed as missing and updates regarding this will be conveyed as soon as additional information is received from the Russian side, said the MEA.
"Director General Communication Center, Indian Registry of Shipping, Mumbai is in touch with families of affected Indian seamen. Arrangements are being made after completion of necessary formalities to bring back the bodies of the deceased to India. The repatriation of the other sailors is also being facilitated through Director General Communication Center, Indian Registry of Shipping , Mumbai," it added.
Reportedly, one of the ships was a liquefied natural gas (LNG) carrier and another one was a tanker. Both the ships, flying Tanzanian flags, were carrying total 32 crew members. While 17 crew members including nine Turkish and eight Indians were on the Candy, the Maestro had 15 crew members including seven Turkish, seven Indians and an intern from Libya. The fire broke when one of the ships exploded while transferring fuel from one to the other.
The Indian sailors killed in the incident were identified as Pinal Kumar Bharatbhai Tandel, Vikram Singh, Sarvanan Nagarajan, Vishal Dod, Raja Debnarayan Panigrahi and Karankumar Haribhai Tandel. While Karankumar was a member of the crew in Maestro, all others were stationed in Candy.
Likewise, the missing Indian sailors include Siddharth Meher, Neeraj Singh, Sebastian Britto Breezlin Sahayaraj, Anandasekar Avinash, Rushikesh Raju Sakpal and Akshay Baban Jadhav. While the first four are from Maestro, the others are a part of the crew in Candy.
Four Indian sailors have also been rescued. They are Harish Jogi, Sachin Singh and Ashish Ashok Nair from Maestro and Kamleshbhai Gopalbhai Tandel from Candy.