Rescue efforts by the Indian Coast Guard are underway to transfer to safety the crew of bulk carrier Asian Express, which suffered an engine failure and began sinking some 80 nautical miles north west of Minicoy on Wednesday.

All the 22 crew members, 18 Maldivians and four Indians, are reported safe.

The bulk carrier, which was en route to Maldives from Pakistan’s Port Bin Qasim with a cargo of cement, reported engine failure on Wednesday morning and soon Coast Guard ship Varuna, which had already been deployed in the area in view of the monsoon, was diverted to take stock of the situation, Coast Guard DIG T.K.S. Chandran told The Hindu.

Following engine failure, the ship began to drift in the choppy seas. “Efforts at repairing its engine proved futile as the sea was increasingly getting rough. The cargo vessel soon began to roll badly and developed a tear along its side. It soon started listing,” he said.

At the time of going to press, CGS Varuna had transferred about five crew members from the sinking vessel. “Efforts are still on to rescue the whole team,” said a Coast Guard officer.

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