Islamabad/Karachi, Jun 20: MV Suez's 22-member crew, including six Indians, who were freed by Somali pirates after the payment of ransom, are expected to reach Karachi in a naval vessel by Wednesday or Thursday, a Pakistan Navy official said today.
“The crew members have been transferred to the PNS Babar and they are expected to reach Pakistan either late on June 22 or early on June 23,” the navy official, who did not want to be named, told PTI.
The crew, including the Indians, four Pakistanis, 11 Egyptians and a Sri Lankan, was taken on board the Pakistani warship yesterday after the MV Suez ran out of fuel and started sinking.
The crew will be transferred from PNS Babar to another warship, PNS Zulfiqar, for the voyage to Pakistan. This is being done as PNS Babar is currently deployed for a counter-piracy operation in the Gulf of Aden and cannot sail to Pakistan.
The Pakistan Navy launched the Operation Umeed-e-Nuh (New Hope) to rescue the crew after MV Suez captain Wasi Hasan requested the evacuation of his crew to save their lives. It could not immediately be ascertained what arrangements were being made by Pakistani authorities to repatriate the foreign members of the Suez's crew after their arrival in Karachi.
It is also not known if the foreign crew members possess their passports and valid travel documents or if these had been stolen by the pirates.Officials of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad said they had not yet been contacted by Pakistani authorities about making any arrangements for the Indian crew members.
However, Pakistani human rights activist Ansar Burney has said that when the sailors will reach Karachi, they will be send back to their respective countries. “I hope this will be a good gift to India from my side. I love you all Indians, I love you all Pakistanis,” said Burney, who has played a pivotal role in securing the release of the crew.
The crew of the MV Suez was released last week after Burney collected USD 2.1 million that was paid as ransom to the pirates.
The Egyptian-owned merchant vessel was in a “considerably deteriorated operational and material state” after being held by the pirates for about 10 months, the Pakistan Navy said.
The crew “was weak and suffering from various ailments”, the Pakistan Navy said.On June 17, the ship's fuel was exhausted while it was 100 nautical miles short of the Omani port of Salalah. Though a tug was arranged for towing the vessel to Salalah, the tug too developed a defect and the towing plan was abandoned.
India and Pakistan have traded angry charges over an incident involving their warships that were sent to help the MV Suez.Pakistan alleged that the Indian warship INS Godavari brushed against the PNS Babar.India denied the allegation and said the PNS Babar was responsible for the incident as it carried out dangerous manoeuvres. PTI