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Indian crew of Suez to reach Mumbai on Friday

June 23, 2011 23:00 IST

The six Indians who are part of the 22-member crew of the MV Suez that was recently freed by Somali pirates are expected to reach Mumbai on Friday on a flight via Dubai, a representative of the vessel's owners said on Thursday.

"The six Indian members of the crew are scheduled to depart Pakistan on an Emirates flight for Dubai at 10.30 pm (Pakistani time). From Dubai, they will fly to Mumbai and are expected to be in India on Friday," said Majid Aziz, a representative of Red Sea Navigation, the owners of MV Suez.

As a gesture of goodwill, the owners of the vessel had borne the expenses for repatriating the sailors to India, Aziz told mediapersons.

"The Indian crew members were escorted to the Karachi airport by two officials of the Indian High Commission and a Pakistani security detail," he said.

Special arrangements were made by authorities in Sindh province, including Governor Ishrat-ul-Ibad Khan, to facilitate the immigration procedures for the Indian sailors, said Aziz, a former president of the Karachi Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

There was no official word from Indian authorities and officials of the Indian High Commission could not be reached for comments.  The crew of the MV Suez was brought to Karachi earlier in the day by the Pakistan Navy warship PNS Zulfiqar, which had picked up the sailors from the waters off Oman.

The MV Suez sank somewhere off the coast of Oman after running out of fuel.

The 22 crew members, including four Pakistanis, a Sri Lankan and 11 Egyptians, were freed after over two million dollars was paid as ransom to the Somali pirates last week.Pakistani Human Rights Activist Ansar Burney played a key role in arranging the ransom and negotiating with the pirates.

The crew had been held by the pirates for about 10 months. The Indian High Commission in Islamabad sent Visa Counsellor Suhel Khan to Karachi to look after the process of repatriated the Indian sailors.

Before their departure for the airport, the Indian sailors and other members of the crew of MV Suez attended a reception hosted by the Sindh Governor.

In a related development, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani expressed joy and happiness over the safe return of the crew of MV Suez. He conveyed his felicitations to the Pakistani and foreign sailors.
Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad