25 Indians aboard MV Rezzak feared dead

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Mumbai, Feb 24 (UNI) At least 25 Indians on board the Panamanian cargo vessel ''MV Rezzak'' are feared dead six days after the ship lost contact in the Black Sea off the coast of Turkey.

The ship, which lost contact on February 18, is believed to have sank off the coast of Turkey, but search operations was still on with very little hope of finding any survivors, according to a top official in the Directorate General of Shipping.

''We are calling up the Turkish authorities. They are searching for survivors, but have not found anyone so far,'' the official said.

''In the cold of the Black Sea, a person can be alive only for 30 minutes even after wearing a life jacket. Due to bad weather, we are in a hopeless situation. In all probability they are dead, and the deadline for the search is February 25,'' he added.

Speaking to UNI, National Union Seafarers of India (NUSI) general secretary Gani Serang said, ''We will have to wait till February 25 deadline for the report from the Maritime Rescue Control Committee (MRCC) which is handling the rescue operations.'' He said the Indian sailors were hired following an agreement between the Panamanian shipping company and an Arabian company.

A life raft, which breaks away from a ship when it starts sinking, had been seen floating in the sea but no survivors were found inside it or near its vicinity.

UNI AAA/ZC MAZ KD RK2050

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