All 22 crew members of Maldivian bulk carrier Asian Express were rescued by the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) after the vessel suffered an engine failure and began to sink some 60 nautical miles northwest off Minicoy in the Lakshadweep group of islands on Wednesday.

“Despite heavy flooding, the ship is floating as of now, but all 22 crew, 18 Maldivians and four Indians, have been safely transported to Coast Guard vessel Varuna,” Coast Guard DIG T.K.S. Chandran told The Hindu. This is the second vessel accident off the Lakshadweep archipelago in two months.

A fishing boat ferrying passengers from Amini to Kadmat had sunk last month, killing five persons, including a woman and two children on board. Mr. Chandran said the agency was alerted by the master of the vessel as it began to drift in choppy seas following an engine breakdown on Wednesday morning.

The cargo vessel was en route to Maldives from Pakistan’s Port Bin Qasim with a cargo of sand and cement. The Coast Guard diverted its ship Varuna, which was deployed in the area in view of monsoon emergencies, to carry out rescue operations.

“CGS Varuna assisted in the repair of the cargo ship’s engine, but was forced to call it off as the sea was getting increasingly rough. The cargo ship soon began to roll badly. The vessel developed a tear along its side, which led to flooding and it started to list,” Mr. Chandran said.

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