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Updated: July 18, 2013 14:54 IST

Families of hijacked seamen in shock

Staff Reporter/PTI
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Priya, wife of Vasantha Kumar, with his photo at her father’s residence at Adukkathubayal, near Kasaragod, on Wednesday.
Special arragnement Priya, wife of Vasantha Kumar, with his photo at her father’s residence at Adukkathubayal, near Kasaragod, on Wednesday.

The families of two seamen of a Turkish oil tanker hijacked by suspected pirates off the coast of the West African nation Gabon on Monday are in a state of shock.

T.R. Vasanth Kumar (36) of Melparamba and V.K. Babu (34) of Palakkunnu, near Uduma, in the district are part of the all-Indian crew of the vessel.

The family of Mr. Vasanth Kumar came to know about the hijack after the Kochi office of the shipping company telephoned them around 11 a.m. on Tuesday.

In another telephonic conversation on Wednesday, the Kochi office informed the family that the Turkish government was trying to establish contact with the pirates and had sent a naval ship to the region for the safe release of the vessel and its 24 Indian crew.

MV Cotton, the Malta-flagged vessel, was taken over by suspected pirates 15 miles off the Gentil Port early Monday, a statement from V Ships, the crew manager for the vessel owned by a Turkish company, said.

Priya, wife of Mr. Vasanth Kumar, is in tears and not taking food, said T. Shivaraman, her father, residing at Adukkathubayal, near here.

Mr. Shivaraman said his son-in-law had joined the ship in January after a vacation with the family. He urged the Centre to work in tandem with the Turkish government to ensure the safe release of the Indian crew.

Mr. Vasanth Kumar had set off for sailing two weeks ago from Mumbai and had called his family to inform that they were sailing for Africa and would get in touch with them after reaching their destination 12 days later, Mr. Shivaraman said.

He said they had been told by the company that the area from where the ship had been hijacked was a problem-free zone for the past five years. The couple have two children, a daughter studying in first standard and son in LKG. The family of Mr. Babu is shattered on hearing the news. Mr. Babu joined the vessel in April this year.

The relatives of Mr. Babu have not informed his 68-year-old mother about the hijack, his elder brother Murali said. Mr. Babu, who used to call daily, had last informed his brother on July 10 that he was in Nigeria. After that there were no calls, he said.

On July 13, the company officials rang up saying there was no communication link with the ship for the past three days. Mr. Babu’s wife Srividya has been informed of the hijack. The couple have a four-year-old daughter studying in LKG.

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