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New Delhi [India], November 7 (ANI): The Indian authorities are closely working with authorities of Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria for the early release of crew members held in the country, said the Indian mission in Equatorial Guinea on Monday.

16 Indian sailors have been held hostage by the Guinea Navy for nearly last three months, and the families have demanded an immediate release of the sailors. Families of Indian sailors held in the African country have expressed concern about the safety of the sailors.

"This Embassy and our High Commission in Abuja are closely working with authorities of Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria for the early release of crew members of MV Heroic Idun. All crew members are safe and those in the Detention Centre have been shifted to the ship," the Indian mission in Equatorial Guinea tweeted.

"Since their detention in mid-August, this Mission has been in regular contact with the crew members over phone. We have also had several consular access/visits to them. We are closely monitoring developments and are actively engaged for an early resolution of the issue," it added.

Gaurav Arora, a resident of the Govind Nagar area in Kanpur, is among the 16 Indian crew of the ship detained by the Navy of Equatorial Guinea - a country located on the west coast of Africa.

As per Gaurav's family, he had recently joined the merchant navy as a third officer and he was on a Norway-based ship 'MT Heroic Idun' that reached AKPO Offshore - a conventional gas development located in ultra-deepwater in Nigeria on August 8 when he was held hostage along with other crew members of the ship.

The ship had anchored on the international maritime boundary of Nigeria on August 8. The ship crew of 26 people including 16 Indians was waiting for their turn when the Guinea Navy detained the ship and the crew the next day on suspicion that they had come to steal oil, his family said.

Of them, 15 were taken to a hotel, and 11 have been kept on the ship, they claimed. The family said that they are worried because the Guinean Navy is going to hand over the ship crew to Nigeria any movement.

"It's a nerve-racking time for us. We are really worried about my brother's safety and the 15 Indians of the ship crew," Gaurav's sister Komal Arora told ANI.

She said that the Indians might be charged with false allegations and the Guinea Navy will hand them to Nigeria. "We all know how sensitive the place is. The government must intervene since we can't predict how the Nigerian government would treat Indians once the handover is done. It must be stopped," she appealed. (ANI)

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