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Pirates demand ransom, Indians not insured

The hijackers have made a demand to the owners of the shipping company. However, the Indian authorities haven’t been informed. Gigil Varghese reports.

india Updated: May 22, 2008 02:36 IST
Gigil Varghese

The hijacked Jordanian cargo vessel, with ten Indians on it was located in Murgane, off the Somali coast, on Wednesday, said officers from the Director General of Shipping (DGS) office. The hijackers have made a demand to the owners of the shipping company. However, the Indian authorities haven’t been informed.

“The negotiations are on and we don’t know what the demands are,” said Captain M.M. Saggi, nautical advisor to the government of India. “The crew is reported to be safe,” said a press release from the office of the DGS.

Media reports stated that the ships or the crewmembers were not insured. However, Saggi said: “It is mandatory that the crew and the vessel be insured.” A. James, shipping agent for Ajman Shipping based in Sharjah refused to comment. Pirates were suspected of seizing a Jordanian-flagged vessel off the coast of Somalia after authorities lost contact with it on Saturday.

The vessel was carrying 4,200 tonnes of sugar donated by Denmark to Somalia. Last month, pirates took control of a French yacht and held hostage a 30-member crew for a week before a ransom of $2 million was paid for their release. Pirates also seized a Spanish trawler off Somalia and held 26 crewmembers for ransom.

The crew was released a week later. The Spanish government had said it paid no ransom but the Kenya-based Seafarers’ Assistance Programme said the ship was released after $1.2 million was paid. Pirates captured more than 25 ships along Somalia’s coasts last year.