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Kolkata: Indian Navy has pressed into service its three important assets to stop the burning merchant ship MV Kolkata from drifting towards Bangladesh.

A fire broke out in MV Kolkata mid-sea on Wednesday night and it is now afloat in the Bay of Bengal off Sagar Island in South 24-Parganas.

Defence ministry officials said today that while all the 22 crew members were brought to safety in rescue boat by the Coast Guard last night, the ship with subdued flames is drifting easterly direction towards the international maritime boundary line with Bangladesh is a cause for concern.

To curtail the drift towards Bangladesh, the Eastern Naval Command based at Vigaz in Andhra Pradesh has mobilised nothing short of INS Kadmatt ~ anti-submarine warfare corvette, a Sea King 42C helicopter, and Dornier aircraft.

The Sea King 42C helicopter and Dornier aircraft are now in ready position at Kalikunda Air Force Base in West Midnapore; INS Kadmatt has sailed out from Vigaz to provide all necessary support for a proposed operation at sea to anchor the merchant ship on fire.

“At the first light tomorrow, the Sea King 42C helo with four crew members of the ill-fated ship and a Naval specialist team from Vizag will airlift from Kalaikunda and winch down to the ship so to drop the anchor,” defence ministry spokesperson in Kolkata Wing Commander SS Birdi said.

The operation was finalised following a meeting held at Marine House at Hastings in Kolkata today. It was chaired by S Barik, principal officer & joint DG mercantile marine department in the ministry of shipping and was attended by director marine of Kolkata Port Trust, officials from Coast Guard, Navy, and the company that owns MV Kolkata.