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Ship passes through Channel and then disappears

First the ship reported it had been attacked in waters off Sweden. Then it sailed with no apparent problems through one of the world's busiest shipping lanes. And then it disappeared.

world Updated: Aug 13, 2009 01:23 IST

First the ship reported it had been attacked in waters off Sweden. Then it sailed with no apparent problems through one of the world's busiest shipping lanes. And then it disappeared.

The Arctic Sea, a Maltese-flagged cargo ship, was supposed to make port in Algeria with its cargo of timber on Aug. 4. More than a week later, there's no sign of the ship or its Russian crew.

Piracy has exploded off the coast of lawless Somalia but could this be an almost unheard of case of sea banditry in European waters?

"If this is a criminal act, it appears to be following a new business model," Marine intelligence expert Graeme Gibbon-Brooks told Sky News on Wednesday.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered the country's defence minister on Wednesday to take "all necessary measures" to find the missing cargo ship and, if necessary, to free its crew, the Kremlin said.

Wives and other relatives of the crew members issued an appeal to the Russian government to carry out a full-scale rescue mission, using all of Russia's special services.