Kuala Lampur (Malaysia), Sep, 20: First signs of hope have emerged with the hijackers of Hong Kong chemical tanker ship, MT Stolt Valor demanding ransom of Rs 6 crores. Company sources have also revealed that there are 15 hijackers on board the MT Stolt Valor at present and it could take up to another week before negotiators successfully secure the release of all those captive on aboard.
18 Indians are among the 22 crew members on the ship which was hijacked by pirates in the Gulf of Aden near Somalia on Tuesday, Sep 16.
The hijacked vessel MT Stolt Valor's Mumbai-based manning agent said the ship's master, Captain Prabhat Goyal, had sent an email on Thursday, Sep 16 informing them that "the crew had been confined to the ship"s wheelhouse but were being allowed to attend to their daily needs. But, only under the close supervision of the hijackers". He also said that there were a couple of translators who interact with the crew and the hijackers.
According to Goyal's family, he had also called his residence on Thursday, Sep 18. According to sources, Goyals wife has confirmed the statement and was quoted as saying, "He told me that they were safe and I should look after the family and stop worrying." She also said, "My husband called me and said we are all safe and sound and the negotiators are now on board the ship", she said.
Officials from the ship"s manning agent, Ebony Ship Management, said the vessel had arrived at the port of EYL on the east coast of Somalia under instructions from the hijackers. Accordingly, the International Maritime Bureau has issued an advisory urging all ships to stay 250 Nautical Miles away from the Somali coast.
The ship, Mt Stolt Valor was seized on Monday, Sep 15 making it the 12th vessel to be hijacked in the pirate-infested waterway since July 20. He says the Hong Kong tanker, en route to Asia, was sailing in a maritime security corridor in the gulf patrolled by an international coalition of warships and aircraft when it was attacked. Choong says all ships are urged to maintain a strict watch, even in the security corridor.