A Saudi merchant ship named Al-Jawaz-e-Karam was reported missing and feared sunk about 12 nautical miles off the Okha port in the deep waters of the Arabian sea in western Gujarat on Thursday morning.
"The upper layer disturbance over the Arabian sea had led to cyclonic conditions off the Okha coast (since Wednesday), in which two merchant ships, both bearing a Saudi flag - Al-Hussani and Al-Jawaaz-e-Karam - were caught in the mid-sea in the early hours (Thursday)," a senior coast guard official told IANS.
"Out of the two ships, Al-Jawaz-e-Karam is reported to be missing as there is no communication from the crew since morning," the official said.
He said the merchant ship now believed "sunk" had a crew of 13. Coast Guard vessels are searching for the crew mid-sea as they might have jumped from the vessel in life boats during the storm.
The Al Hussaini had struck shallow waters near Okha after being driven by heady winds blowing above 55 km per hour and the crew are reported safe. There were 14 sailors on board the ship.
The two ships were en route to the Indian coastal waters from Sharjah when they were caught in the storm.
A Coast Guard helicopter was to leave from Porbandar in the afternoon for the rescue operations but bad weather prevented the chopper from taking off, the official said.
"We expect the crew of both the ships to be safe but nothing could be said as yet till we hear about them from our rescue team out there," he added.