Pirates attack ship off Gabon, one Indian crew member missing, two injured

The search for one Indian crew member of merchant vessel MV Tampen, thrown in the sea by pirates off the West African nation of Gabon, is going on while two other crew members, who were shot, are fine in a local hospital, a shipping company official said on Tuesday.

The ship, with 17 crew, was sailing from Cameroon to the UAE when it developed some engine problems and was anchored just two kms away from Gabon's Owendo anchorage when pirates boarded the ship on Sunday morning.

"The pirates had fired at the ship crew when they resisted and the Second Engineer was thrown into the sea," Captain Sunil Kumar, Security Officer of Proactive Ship Management, told IANS over phone from Mumbai.

"The two injured crew saw the ship's Second Engineer being thrown overboard. As of now he is missing... it is not known whether he was kidnapped by the pirates," he added.

According to him, the security forces in Gabon have intensified their search for the missing crew.

The ship's chief officer and cook suffered bullet wounds.

Kumar said the ship was not carrying any cargo and was to go to the UAE.

"Gabon is not known for piracy. It is a tourist destination. The shipping industry is surprised. Further the vessel was not anchored away from the port. It was in the inner part of the port. It is suspected that those who knew the port very well might be involved," Kumar added.

According to him, the company has informed the Indian authorities like the Directorate General of Shipping and other authorities in India and in Gabon.

"Other crew members are on the ship and are safe. The family members of the crew are being informed on a continuous basis," Kumar said.

The ship is an offshore supply vessel sailing under the flag of St Kitts and Nevis.

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