New Delhi: Six Indians on board a British vessel hijacked by Somali pirates in December last year from the Gulf of Aden have been released along with 20 other multinational crew after a ransom was paid.
"We have received information from the owner`s representatives that the British vessel St James Park has been released on May 13 and all the 26 crew including 6 Indians are safe," a senior official in the Directorate General of Shipping said.
"The vessel hijacked on December 28 last year from the Gulf of Aden is currently on route to a safe port of refuge," the official said. The official said the vessel was released after ransom was paid to the pirates at a Somalian port but there was no word on the amount.
In Brussels, the European Union anti-piracy mission said owners of the chemical tanker had dropped the ransom to the pirates holding the vessel in the Somali port of Garacaad yesterday.
The 14,000 tonne freighter had been heading for Thailand when it was seized on December 28. The statement said the crew included six Indians, five Bulgarians, three Turkish, three Filipinos, three Russians, two Romanians, two Ukrainians, one Georgian and one Pole.
The number of Indians still held hostage by the pirates is 57 including those on board a Belgium-bound chemical tanker M V Marida Marguerite with 22 crew members including 19 Indians, hijacked on May 9 from the Gulf of Aden.
The tanker en-route from Kandla in Gujarat to Antwerp in Belgium was carrying approximately 11,000 MT of chemicals. Somali pirates had seized 11 dhows (slow-moving vessels) with over 120 Indians on board over a month ago. Of them, five vessels, including a dhow, and 38 Indians continued to be in their custody.
Repeated attacks on Indian vessels had also prompted the government to issue warning to dhows about the dangers in those waters, particularly along the sea-lanes of Salalah and Male.