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Pinoy Abroad

Pinoy captives of Somali pirates swell to 134

November 20, 2008 12:07pm
Vessels with Pinoy crew members that are still with Somali pirates

MV Centauri - Hijacked last September 17 with 26 Filipinos.

M/V Capt. Stephanos - Hijacked last September 21 with 17 Filipinos.

MT African Sanderling – Hijacked last October 15 with 21 Filipinos.

MT Stolt Strength- Hijacked last November 11 with 23 Filipinos.

Tianyu No. 8 (Chinese fishing boat) - Hijacked last November 14 with 3 Filipinos.

MV Sirius Star - Hijacked last November 15 with 19 Filipinos.

MV Chemstar Venus - Hijacked last November 16 with 18 Filipinos.

MV Delight - Hijacked last November 18 with 7 Filipinos.

- Data collected by GMANews.TV

(Updated 9:13 p.m.) MANILA, Philippines The number of abducted Filipino seafarers being held in waters off Somalia rose to 134 after another group of Somali pirates seized a merchant vessel with seven Filipinos on board, the Department of Foreign Affairs said on Thursday.

Citing reports from the Philippine Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, the DFA said the Hong Kong-flagged and Iran-operated MV Delight, with its 25-man crew was hijacked by suspected Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden on November 18.

All crew members were reportedly not harmed, said executive director Crescente Relacion of the DFA’s Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs.

Relacion said the DFA has instructed the Philippine embassies in Nairobi, Manama in Bahrain and Tehran in Iran to coordinate with ship owners and international maritime authorities on efforts to secure safe release of the crew and the vessels.

MV Delight’s hijacking brings to 17 the number of vessels with Filipino crewmen to be hijacked by Somali pirates this year, data culled from records of the DFA showed.

The 17 ships had a total of 208 Filipino seamen, of which 74 have been released after the ship owners apparently paid ransom to pirates.

Pirates guard the crew of the Chinese fishing vessel FV Tianyu 8 as it sails through the Indian Ocean on Monday. Three Filipino seafarers are on board the ship. US Navy
Of 14 vessels currently being held by Somali pirates, eight have Filipino crew members.

The 74 Filipino seafarers who have been freed included the body of a crew member of the Malaysian tanker MV Bunga Melati Dua who was killed in an accident while pirates were boarding the ship on August 19 in the Gulf of Aden.

Most of these ships were hijacked along the Gulf of Aden, one of the world's busiest waterways, which is close to Somalia in the Horn of Africa. With no functioning government since 1991, piracy has become a lucrative industry in Somalia.

International maritime officials said more than 80 pirate attacks have taken place in the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea this year.

Filipino seafarers who have been recently released had told GMANews.TV that their Somali captors had locked them up inside the hijacked vessels and were not fed well.

Somali pirates often loot the seafarers' belongings but take no interest in the ship's cargo. Engineer Nelson Ramirez, president of the Manila-based United Filipino Seafarer's group, earlier said the sea bandits profit from the million-dollar ransom money paid by the ship owners.

In response to the surge in pirate hijackings in the Gulf of Aden area, several countries have deployed warships to the Gulf of Aden to help curb attacks.

Last September, warships from the US Navy's 5th Fleet forced pirates to abandon a Ukrainian ship loaded with tanks and other weaponry that they seized Sept. 25 off the Somali coast.

The pirates, however, are increasingly becoming better equipped to venture into the open seas. This was highlighted by the hijacking of the Saudi supertanker the MV Sirius Star loaded with $100 million in crude oil last Tuesday off the coast of Kenya.

Of the Sirius Star’s 25 crew members, 19 were Filipinos.

The tanker was seized about 450 nautical miles off the Kenyan coast and brought to a Somali port.

With few other options, ship owners in past piracy cases have ended up paying ransoms for their ships, cargoes and crew. - GMANews.TV
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