Somali pirates release Greek-owned ship
Mogadishu, April 24, 2011
Somali pirates have freed a Greek-owned, Cyprus-flagged ship they seized in January after receiving a ransom payment, pirates and a piracy monitoring group said.
The pirates said they had released MV Eagle, a 52,163 deadweight tonne merchant vessel and its crew of 24 Filipinos seized in January, about 500 miles south west of Oman, while it was en route to India from Jordan.
Pirates said they received a $6 million ransom for the ship's release.
"We have received our $6 million .... The ship has just started to sail away from our zone with a warship," a pirate who only gave his as Kalif, told Reuters on Saturday by phone from the coastal town of El-Dhanane.
The amount could not be verified, but Ecoterra, an advocacy group monitoring piracy in the Indian Ocean, confirmed a ransom was paid.
"After having received a hefty ransom for the old bulk carrier, Somali buccaneers released the Greek owned and Cypriot-flagged MV Eagle. Vessel and crew made their way to safe waters," it said in a statement.
Two decades of conflict in Somalia have allowed piracy to flourish off the lawless nation's shores. Pirates typically do not kill crews held hostage in the expectation of receiving a ransom for a vessel's release.
Pirate gangs are making tens of millions of dollars in ransoms, and despite successful efforts to quell attacks in the Gulf of Aden, international navies have struggled to contain piracy in the Indian Ocean owing to the vast distances involved.
The economic cost of piracy has been estimated at $7 billion to $12 billion per year, with shippers facing rising insurance costs that threaten to raise commodity prices. - Reuters