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KARACHI: Families of the seven Pakistani crew members, who were on board the Iranian merchant ship, MV Jouya-8, which reportedly came under a missile attack off the coast of Yemen near its Al-Hodeidah port, took the shipping agent and the members of the Karachi Dock Labour Board (KDLB) to task over the fate of their loved ones.

The shipping authorities and the Pakistani ministry of foreign affairs described those on board the ship as ‘missing’ and said that they would not give a statement until everything was confirmed.

The ship was reportedly on its way to Dubai after delivering cargo in Egypt.

During a meeting at the KDLB on Wednesday, which was attended by director general of ports and shipping Asad Chandna, director of shipping Asif Haroon and shipping master Mohammed Masood, the families of the Pakistani crew questioned unconfirmed details coming from various sources.

Recently, an official of the Arabian Marine Services, managing agent of the Iranian vessel, claimed that eight Pakistani sailors, seven of whom were provided by his company, were on the ship when it was hit by a missile on Dec 18.

He said his information came from a phone call by a survivor, Kabir Khadim Hussain, whom he said swam to the shore.

The shipping agent is the only person to have spoken with the survivor as there is no information regarding his current location.

In a video message received by the shipping agent, Kabir Khadim Hussain is seen lying on a stretcher and speaking on a phone while he is being filmed.

He speaks about surviving an attack and says he saw one of his crew members’ body on the ship.

DG of Ports and Shipping Asad Chandna said they were in contact with the ministry of foreign affairs and in the process of “tying up some loose ends as too little is known about the incident”.

The DG added: “We are still verifying details so it would be too early to say something at the moment.”

Shipping Master Mohammad Masood said their only contact so far was the ministry of foreign affairs and they’d have to rely on their statement.

The foreign ministry in its statement written to the DG ports and shipping recently stated that “they are trying to ascertain the veracity and content of the reports on the issue and we are in touch with our missions in Riyadh and Oman to further provide details on the matter”.

Relatives of a crew member, Sohail Ahmed, whose body was reportedly seen by Mr Hussain while he was jumping off the ship, questioned the survivor’s statement.

Relatives of another crew member, Mohammad Ibrahim, said “Our only demand is to repatriate our family member because we believe that they are alive. We have no enmity with anyone over here. We are just distraught with the missing links and want to hear the truth from the authorities.”

Published in Dawn December 29th, 2016