Fate of MV Abdullah, crew still hanging in balance

DhakaTribune || Shining BD

Published: 3/28/2024 7:09:49 AM

Even more than two weeks into the hijacking of Bangladeshi flag carrier MV Abdullah by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean, its 23 crew members have yet to be rescued.  

Nobody has the slightest idea about exactly when that will happen despite the relatives of the crew members, who have been held hostage by the pirates, regularly calling the ship’s owning company SR Shipping.

They have been waiting for the much-awaited news: the release of their near and dear ones from the clutch of the pirates. 

Mizanul Islam, media adviser of KSRM Group, whose subsidiary is SR Shipping, said: “We’ve been trying to help the release of the crew members." 

“We want that to happen before Eid-ul-Fitr. We’re working with that target.”

Mizanul went on to say that they are in touch with the crew members. 

“We’ve been contacting the pirates too,” he added. 

Badrul Islam, brother-in-law of one of the crew members named Mohammad Shamsuddin, said that the latter phoned them on Sunday night. 

“He (Shamsuddin) said they are fine. But they are facing issues with water. Drinking water is supplied only twice a week; that too for merely an hour,” Badrul said.

For most of the time, they are forced to use saline water from the sea, Badrul said, referring to Shamsuddin. 

“This is causing skin diseases to many aboard on the ship,” Shamsuddin was quoted as saying.  

Badrul said: “A man with a good command over English joined the pirates a few days ago. It is suspected that the pirates demanded ransom to the ship owner through him.”

Meanwhile, the ship authorities were contacted on March 20 for the first time by the pirates. The ship owner made several contacts with them afterwards.

But the owner did not reveal anything about the potential ransom.  

He did not even disclose if they made any negotiations with the pirates about freeing the ship and its crew members. 

Captain Atiq U Khan of a sea-bound commercial ship said: “As the government and the shop owner took their stance against a commando operation, the European Union and Indian warships are maintaining distance from MV Abdullah."

“A helicopter flies over the ship once or twice a day now. But the pirates have placed anti-aircraft cannons on the ship. The crew members are doing their routine work, especially in the engine room.” 

On March 12, a group of Somalian pirates seized control of the Bangladesh-flagged cargo vessel when it was carrying 55,000 metric tons of coal from Mozambique’s Maputo port to Al Hamriyah Port in the UAE.

Shining BD