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Somali pirates hijack UK ship, release another

2009-12-30 08:00 BJT

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NAIROBI, Dec. 29 (Xinhua) -- A Singaporean-flagged container ship was released by Somali pirates while a UK-flagged chemical tanker was hijacked, a regional maritime official confirmed on Tuesday.

Andrew Mwangura, East Africa coordinator of the Seafarers Assistance Program, said the MV Kota Wajar which was hijacked on Oct. 15 was released on Monday and is en route to Mombassa, east Kenya.

"All 21 crew are safe and well. We are informed that the shipping company is sending a party to Mombassa to receive the Captain and the crew of the Kota Wajar and to ensure that they receive the best possible care after their ordeal," he said.

Also on Monday, Somali pirates took a UK-flagged chemical tanker, St. James Park, which was on voyage from Tarragona, Spain to Tha Phut, Thailand.

"She was hijacked by pirates in position 1258.4 N and 4834.1 E which is in the Gulf of Aden, the International Recognized Transit Corridor(IRTC)," said Mwangura.

The St. James Park is loaded with a cargo of 13,175 tonnes of EDC (Ethyl Dichlorine), which is used in the manufacturing of plastics and is not dangerous in normal carriage conditions.

The ship's last port of call was Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where she stopped on Dec. 24.

The vessel sent a security alert at 1420 GMT on Monday before altering its course and heading southwest towards the northern coast of Somalia.

There are 26 crew members on board including Russian, Bulgarian, Romanian, Filipino, Polish, Ukrainian, Georgian, Indian and Turkish.

"At the current course and speed she will arrive off the coast between 0300 GMT and 0600 GMT Dec. 29," said Mwangura.

Piracy has become rampant off the coast of Africa, especially in the waters near Somalia, which has been without an effective government since 1991.

Ransoms started out in the tens of thousands of dollars and have since climbed into the millions.

An estimated 25,000 ships annually cruise the Gulf of Aden, off Somalia's northern coast. More than 10 ships and 200 crew members are still held by Somali pirates.

The Gulf of Aden, off the northern coast of Somalia, has the highest risk of piracy in the world. About 25,000 ships use the channel south of Yemen, between the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea.


Editor: Zhang Pengfei | Source: Xinhua