25 Indians feared dead, Govt in touch with its Missions

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New Delhi, Mar 11 (UNI) All 25 Indian nationals, aboard the cargo vessel which went missing while on way from Russia to Turkey on February 18, are feared dead and the government, without confirming, said it was in touch with Indian Missions in those countries.

''We are in touch with our missions. It's a terrible tragedy, We have instructed the missions to extend all possible assistance to the relatives of the victims,'' Minister of State for External Affairs, Anand Sharma, said.

Speaking to reporters here last night on the sidelines of a function to announce the launch of the India-Africa Summit, the Minister said the government has a very clear policy to help any Indian citizen who is in difficulty in a foreign country.

He said the situation was not in the government's control and was being monitored.

The Minister, however, declined to confirm the deaths and said, ''we cannot say anything unless we hear something from the governments of those countries or maritime authorities.'' A Panamanian cargo vessel, M V Rezzak, with 25 Indian sailors on board, went missing in the Black Sea while it was on its way from Russia to Turkey on February 18.

The vessel, manned by Mumbai-based Pelican Marine, was carrying steel billets when it lost communication due to bad weather.

The Pelican-Marine company, in a letter to the relatives of the victims, said the 25 people were ''lost''. The company, however, said they would continue to search for the missing.

UNI RB SHB RN1518

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