The LTTE, which had rescued the crew of the Jordanian merchant vessel Farah III stranded off the Mullaitivu coast on Saturday, has arranged for their repatriation.
“The International Committee of the Red Cross will be repatriating the crew. On Sunday, the crew members talked over the phone to their families and also to their respective diplomatic missions in Sri Lanka and India,” said the LTTE’s military spokesman Rasaiah Ilanthirayan.
The 25 members of the crew, drawn from Jordan and Egypt, were well looked after and fed by the LTTE.
The vessel carrying 14,000 tonnes of rice from Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh to South Africa, had developed engine trouble and was drifting towards the Mullaitivu coast in North East Sri Lanka held by the LTTE.
The LTTE’s Sea Tigers boarded the vessel on suspicion, but when it became clear that it was a merchant vessel in distress, they tried to set the engine right.
When they were unsuccessful, they took the crew to the shore and informed the ICRC and the Scandinavian truce monitors.
The Sri Lankan military however said that the Sea Tigers had hijacked the vessel.