Indian coastguard rescues crew of Maldivian cargo vessel

The Maldivian cargo ship MV Asian Express sank on Wednesday evening 300 kilometres west of Kochi, after its hull reportedly cracked below the waterline.

The ship, which was travelling to the Maldives from Pakistan carrying a cargo of sand and cement, suffered an engine failure on Tuesday evening and began drifting, reported IBN Live.

According to marine tracking reports, the Indian Coast Guard ship Varuna arrived to assist but was forced to abandon attempts to fix the engines because of rapidly deteriorating weather conditions.

The Indian coast guard subsequently evacuated all 22 crew members, including 18 Maldivians and four Indian nationals.

The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) confirmed it had received the first distress reports, and said the Maldivian crew were being transferred to Kochi following total loss of the vessel.

The MV Asian Express was carrying aggregate imported from Pakistan, after a shortage began impacting the Maldives’ construction industry.

Aggregate was previously imported to the Maldives from India under a special quota, however this was temporarily revoked on February 15 amid a breakdown in the country’s relationship over the government’s eviction of Indian infrastructure giant GMR and ongoing mistreatment of Indian nationals working in the country.