India to join missing Panamanian vessel probe

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Mumbai, March 3 : India will join an international investigation into the missing of a Panamanian cargo vessel carrying 25 Indian crewmembers in the Black sea while on its way to Turkey from Russia, as search and rescue operation entered the third week on Monday.

An officer is being sent for the purpose after MV Rezzak, registered in Panama, went missing in the high seas on February 18, an official said here today.

"Panama and India are expediting the investigation process. The investigating members of both the involved maritime states are processing their visa/travel formalities and soon shall be proceeding to Turkey," Deepak Kapoor, an official in the Directorate General (Shipping) said in a statement.

The investigation is expected to take place in Panama since the ship is registered there. Since the missing crew involves Indians, one person can be nominated to be part of the probe proceedings as per international law.

MV Rezzak carrying 25 Indian crew and steel billets as cargo left Russia for Turkey on February 17, a 24-hour voyage. Next day, the vessel with the crew went missing and there was no distress call, Kapoor said.

A Turkish national owns the vessel. Mumbai-based Pelican Marine recruited the crew for MV Rezzak. Turkish authorities are carrying out the search and rescue operation.

The search and rescue team has found a punctured life raft, life jackets, synthetic tarpaulins, gas cylinders, sea survival kit, life buoys and lifeboats of Rezzak, Kapoor said.

However there was no trace of the crew, he added.

The Turkish ship was equipped with an automatic identification system, but this was not in use/switched off mode when it left Russia, the statement said.

ANI

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