Six Indians were declared dead and six are still missing in the Kerch Strait after two ships with crew members from India, Turkey and Libya caught fire while transferring fuel from one vessel to another. The fire broke out on Monday in the Kerch Strait, which separates Crimea and Russia.
According to the authorities, one of the ships, Candy, was carrying 17 crew members, with eight Indian and nine Turkish seamen, while the Maestro was carrying 15 crew members, including seven Indians, seven Turkish citizens and an intern from Libya.
Both the vessels were flying Tanzanian flags. While the Candy was carrying liquified natural gas (LNG), the Maestro was a tanker. On Wednesday, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) issued a statement in New Delhi, confirming that Indians were among the dead.
“Due to shipping incident in the black sea, 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,” the MEA statement said.
The statement identified the deceased Indian sailors as Pinal Kumar Bharatbhai Tandel, Vikram Singh, Sarvanan Nagarajan, Vishal Dod, Raja Debnarayan Panigrahi and Karankumar Haribhai Tandel.
The missing Indian seamen were identified as Siddharth Meher, Neeraj Singh, Sebastian Britto Breezlin Sahayaraj, Rushikesh Raju Sakpal, Akshay Baban Jadhav and Anandasekar Avinash. Four other Indian sailors — Harish Jogi, Sachin Singh, Ashish Nair and Kamleshbhai Gopalbhai Tandel — were rescued by Russian authorities. The rescued sailors were being treated at a hospital in Kerch city and were declared out of danger.
The MEA statement further said that the Russian Maritime Agency and Maritime Rescue and Coordination Centre, Novorossiysk, were continuing efforts to locate the missing seamen. Director General of Shipping, Amitabh Kumar, said, “We are in constant touch with the concerned Russian agencies and we have been taking updates on the missing seamen as well.”
Arrangements were being made, after the completion of necessary formalities, to bring back the bodies of the deceased to India, the MEA said. The repatriation of the other sailors is being facilitated through the Director-General Communication Centre, Indian Registry of Shipping, Mumbai.