US sailor held in India attempts suicide

The chief engineer of a US-owned ship detained in India has attempted to take his own life while in jail, police say.

MV Seaman Guard Ohio: US sailor held in India ‘attempts suicide’

The chief engineer of a US-owned ship detained in India has attempted to take his own life while in jail, police say.

The MV Seaman Guard Ohio was detained on 12 October and its crew, which includes Indians, Britons, Ukrainians and Estonians, was arrested on Friday.

Police said others present in the cell prevented the engineer from taking his life. His nationality is not known.

Indian authorities say the vessel entered Indian waters with a huge cache of weapons on board.

AdvanFort, the US-company which owns the Sierra-Leone-registered vessel, said it was involved in supporting anti-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean.

The ship is currently anchored at Tuticorin port in southern Tamil Nadu state.

Police told the BBC’s Tamil service that the man tried to strangle himself using his shirt at 05:00 local time on Monday [23:30GMT Sunday], but he was stopped in time by others in the cell at Palayamkottai.

Reports suggest he may have attempted to take his own life earlier in the weekend as well.

‘Ammunition not declared’

Of the 35 crew members, 33 were arrested on Friday, while the remaining two men were taken into custody on Saturday.

There have been differing accounts of the chain of events from the Indian authorities and the ship’s owner AdvanFort, a US-based security firm.

The Indian authorities say they intercepted the American ship when it was reportedly sailing off the coast of Tamil Nadu.

Police also said they found weapons and ammunition on board, which had not been properly declared.

But in a statement released last week, AdvanFort said India’s coast guard and police allowed the vessel to enter the port to refuel and shelter from a cyclone which had hit India’s eastern coast. The company even thanked officials.

It added that all weaponry and equipment on board was properly registered.

In recent years piracy has emerged as a major threat to merchant ships in the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea, with ships and their crews sometimes hijacked for ransom.

There have been fewer attacks recently, partly because more armed guards are now deployed on board.

Six of the crew members are Britons and British high commission officials were allowed into the prison on Monday morning to meet them.

Source: BBC.

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