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Somali pirates free ship with 7 Indian crew members

world Updated: Jan 12, 2009 16:49 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times
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Somali pirates on Friday freed an Iranian ship with a crew of 25, including seven Indians, after 53 days in captivity in the Gulf of Aden.

MV Delight, the Hong Kong flagged ship, chartered by Iran’s biggest shipping firm Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), was heading for the Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas from Germany with 36,000 tonnes of wheat when Somali pirates captured it off the Yemen coast in the Gulf of Aden on November 18.

Reports quoting IRISL officials said the vessel, released on Friday evening, was sailing towards the Iranian coast. However, they did not say whether any ransom had been paid.

An official of MV Delight’s Indian agent — Wilhelmsen Ship Management — told HT from Mumbai that they too had heard the news but there was no official confirmation from the owners so far. “We haven’t received any official confirmation from the owners as yet. But, we can say with authority that all the seven Indians are safe,” he added.

The seven Indians were identified as Rajeeb Lochan Behera, Kamlajeet Singh, Mahmood Aslam Lambade, Rafique Tafazzul, Shamsul Hassan Israr, Sheikh Abdul Jabbar and Clive Fernandes. Wilhelmsen had recruited all of them.

Among the other crewmembers, seven each are from Iran and the Philippines and two each from Pakistan and Guyana. Somali pirates on Friday also freed the Sirius Star, a Saudi-owned super-tanker carrying two million barrels of crude oil worth $100 million. The ship, also hijacked in November, was freed after the owners reportedly paid a ransom of $3 million.

However, the pirates are still holding several vessels, including a Liberian-flagged chemical tanker that has 25 Indians and three Bangladeshis on board.

MT Biscaglia is managed by Singapore-based Ishima and owned by US-based Industrial Shipping Enterprises Corporation. An official at Ishima’s Mumbai liaison office said the crew is safe but did not give more details.