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Govt efforts underway to safely return MV Abdullah crew

Staff Correspondent
13 Mar 2024 17:30:03 | Update: 13 Mar 2024 20:21:12
Govt efforts underway to safely return MV Abdullah crew
— UNB Photo

The government is determined to bring back the crew members of hijacked Bangladeshi vessel MV Abdullah safely, State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury said on Wednesday.

“Appropriate steps are being taken in this regard,” he said while speaking to journalists at his Secretariat office on Wednesday afternoon.

When asked how long it would take to bring the crew members back, he said, “It is not possible to give a timeframe because the kidnappers are pirates. The Department of Shipping, and all Maritime wings are working together to resolve the issue.

“We are bound to rescue the crew and ship at any cost.”

The ship is 600 nautical miles off the Somalia coast, but it is not clear yet who the pirates are," he said replying to another query.

"We have informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about this. We have asked for everyone's cooperation to rescue the ship. Our main priority will be the safe return of the 23 crew members. The crews are currently safe and sound in the hijacked vessel."

He also said that India's cooperation has been sought for rescuing the ship and how they will cooperate will be implemented through the Ministry of External Affairs and international wings, reports UNB.

When asked if there was contact with the pirates, he said, “There are some organisations who can contact the pirates. We have no dealings with pirates. We have contact with different countries and we are determined to bring them back.”

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Hasan Mahmud said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has expressed concerns regarding the incident, security agencies are working, and the matter was discussed in the cabinet meeting informally.

Hasan Mahmud made the remarks while responding to Journalists’ queries at the Nabab Nawab Ali Chowdhury Senate Bhaban of Dhaka University on Wednesday.

“We are already informed in the information centres of Kualalampur, New Delhi and Singapore.  Besides, we also reported all the naval ships from the USA, UK, India and China and concerned areas.”

We are trying to connect those who hijacked the ships through another party. We have not connected with the pirates till now, but we informed the matter to where it is needed,” he added.

Families crying out for help

The family of Ordinary Seaman Joy Mahmud, who is among 23 crew members of Bangladeshi cargo vessel MV Abdullah – hijacked by a group of Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean on Tuesday – is counting every moment in anxiety.

Joy Mahmud— UNB Photo

Joy, hailing from Salinagar village in Bagatipara upazila of Natore district, informed of his fate to his cousin Maruf over the phone after the Somali pirates took them as hostages.

Maruf said Joy asked him not to inform his parents about the incident, but they came to know about it through public representatives and media. Ziaur Rahman and Abida Begum, Joy’s parents, have not slept since hearing about the captivity of their only son.

They want the government and ship authorities to take immediate action to rescue everyone on board, including their son. Joy joined the ship as Ordinary Seaman on November 29 last year.

Meanwhile, the anxious family of Taufiqul Islam, second engineer on the MV Abdullah has demanded immediate government action to secure the release of all hostages.

“He apologised to us all. Then the line went dead, the pirates took his phone.  I haven't spoken to him since,” Dil Afroza described the last frantic phone call of her son Taufiqul.

“I cannot reach him, do not know how he is.  All of them need to be rescued, as soon as possible,” she said in a trembling voice. 

Taufiqul’s wife, Zubaida Noman said, he has been at sea since 2008, but never faced anything like this.

“He called on Tuesday evening and we got to know this. The government needs to act now, and bring everyone back.  I just want him home safe,” she said.

Taufiqul, who hails from Khulna, is the youngest of three brothers. 

Taufiqul's young children, 7-year-old Tasfia Tahasina and 5-year-old Ahmed Mufasi, have been inconsolable since hearing the news.

Among the 23 crew members, 11 hailed from Chattogram alone, two are from Noakhali and one each from Natore, Naogaon, Feni, Faridpur, Lakshmipur, Barishal, Netrakona, Sirajganj, Tangail and Khulna.

Earlier on Tuesday, the ship, carrying coal from Mozambique’s Maputo port to Al Hamriyah Port in the UAE, was attacked around noon.

MV Abdullah is owned by SR Shipping Lines – a sister company of Chattogram-based Kabir Steel and Rerolling Mill (KSRM) Group. All crew members are being held hostage by the pirates, said KSRM’s media adviser Mizanul Islam.

The crew members are – Captain Mohammad Abdur Rashid, Chief Officer Mohammad Atikullah Khan, Second Officer Mazharul Islam Chowdhury, Third Officer Tarequl Islam, Deck Cadet Sabbir Hossain, Chief Engineer ASM Saiduzzaman, Second Officer Toufiqul Islam, Third Engineer Rokon Uddin, Fourth Engineer Tanvir Ahmed, Engine Cadet Ayub Khan, electrician Ibrahim Khalil, seaman Md Anwarul Haque, seaman Md Asifur Rahman, seaman  Sazzad Hossain, seaman Joy Mahmud, seaman Nazmul Haque, seaman Ainul Haque, oiler Mohamamd Shamsuddin, Ali Hossain, fireman Mosharraf Hossain Shakil, chief cook Shafiqul Islam, general steward Nur Uddin, and fitter Saleh Ahmed.

KSRM owns 23 ships – all operating on international routes. In 2010, one of the ships, “MV Zahan Moni,” was hijacked and was later released by Somali pirates after providing ransom.