Families of missing sailors still hopeful; govt, Navy silent on search

Family and friends of the 10 sailors missing from MV Emerald Star which sank off Philippines 10 days ago are still hopeful that the sailors would be safe even as the Indian government and the Navy have gone silent and have not provided an update in the past week. The Indian Navy had sent a Boeing P-8I Long Range Maritime Reconnaissance Anti-Submarine warfare aircraft to help in the search and rescue operations on October 15.

The last information provided by the Navy and the Indian government on the status of the search operations was on October 16. A week later, families of the missing sailors are still in the dark. On Monday, when an update was sought on the search operations, a Navy spokesperson deflected the issue to the MEA. At the time of writing the report, the MEA had not responded.

According to relatives and friends of the missing sailors, the information they are receiving is only from officials of Vridhi Maritime Pvt Ltd, that managed the ship.

“We have not heard anything from the government since the last update was given. We are still hopeful that all the missing sailors are safe, because so far the search has stretched over a vast area and they have not found anyone,” Karthik Prabu, brother of Third Officer Subramaniam Giridhar Kumar, told The Hindu.

Ramesh Nair, a friend of the captain of MV Emerald Star Rajesh Ramachandran Nair, said officials of the Maritime Union of India were trying to schedule a meeting for the Captain’s wife and family members of a couple of other sailors with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. “The meeting could happen either on October 25 or 26. We don’t know exactly as yet,” Mr. Ramesh said.

According to a spokesperson of Vridhi Maritime, the company too had not received any updates on the search operations. “But we did hear the sea is rough. Otherwise there seems to be no change in the search status,” he said. Another meeting for family members is also likely to be scheduled with Vridhi Maritime officials to list out various issues and concerns to be raised with the government.

“We want them to also search the nearby islands for survivors. They have not found anyone in the sea so far. There is a big possibility that they could have ended up on one of the nearby islands,” Mr. Prabu said.

(With inputs from Kallol Bhattecharjee)

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