Somali pirates free vessel with 11 Indians | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Somali pirates free vessel with 11 Indians

delhi Updated: Mar 10, 2011 01:59 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times
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Eleven months after being hijacked, MV Rak Africana, a ship with 11 Indians and 12 others on board has been released by Somali pirates, government sources said on Wednesday.

The issue of other 79 Indian sailors, who are still in Somali pirates' custody, was raised in Lok Sabha.

External affairs minister SM Krishna's assurance that their safety and early release was the highest priority for the government, failed to convince the opposition. Leader of the opposition Sushma Swaraj led a walkout of the BJP, Shiv Sena and Akali Dal members charging the Centre with showing "helplessness" in the matter.

MV Rak Africana is still said to be in Somalian waters, but all the Indians on board are safe.

"We can confirm that the ship and its crew members have been freed but the ship is still in the Somalian waters," said a source in the shipping ministry, which is the nodal department in such matters.

The source said the ship had developed a technical snag and would take some time to sail, but refused to elaborate.

MV Rak Africana was seized approximately 280 nautical miles west of the Seychelles on April 11, 2010 with 23 crew members on board.

Babu, father of Roji V John, second officer trainee in the ship told PTI that authorities of Rak International company, which owns the ship handed over the ransom on Tuesday.

Indian sailors on-board MV Suez, however, still face a perilous time as the final deadline set by the pirates expired on Wednesday.

According to the directorate-general of shipping, 215 Indian crew-members were present in hijacked ships and 136 of them have been released. "At present, there are 79 Indian crew-members on seven ships that are in the custody of Somali pirates," a source said.