India has sought the help of Jordan to secure the release of a ship, carrying 10 Indian crew members, that was hijacked off the coast of the Somalian capital of Mogadishu on Saturday. The US Navy has offered all help to free the vessel and crew.
"Indian authorities are in touch with Jordan's foreign ministry and transport ministry regarding the hijacked ship MV Victoria," a diplomatic source told IANS from the Jordanian capital Amman.
"Contact with Jordanian authorities over the issue was established today (Tuesday)," the source said.
The ship, flying the Jordanian flag, was carrying 21 crew members of whom 10 are Indians while the others are from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Kenya and Tanzania.
When contacted by IANS, the United Arab Emirates-based Marwan Shipping, which owns the vessel, said there was no contact with the hijackers till Tuesday afternoon.
"We are still awaiting some communication from the hijackers," a company official said by phone.
According to a statement issued in Mumbai by the Directorate General of Shipping (DGS), the Maritime Liaison Office Commander, US Naval Forces-Central Command, Bahrain, has offered all possible help to free the vessel and the crew members held hostage.
The DGS has approached the ministry of transport in Jordan, requesting their cooperation to resolve the issue.
The Indian Coast Guard's Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, Mumbai, is also coordinating with the search and rescue agencies in Yemen, Seychelles and Norway to alert their counterparts to initiate necessary action against the piracy and furnish relevant information here, the DGS said.
The ship, headed from Mumbai in India, was carrying 4,200 tonnes of sugar donated by Denmark to war-torn Somalia as aid when it was seized early Saturday morning 40 nautical miles off Mogadishu.
"Pirates on three small boats boarded the Jordanian-flagged vessel and she is now moving north towards Hobyo, some 500 km north of Mogadishu," Andrew Mwangura, programmes coordinator of the Seafarers Assistance Programme, a Kenyan association for workers in the marine industry, told Kenya's Nation Media newspaper.
The hijacking of MV Victoria is the third such incident to be reported off the Somalian coast in the last five months.