BRUSSELS: Somali pirates on Saturday hijacked a Maltese cargo ship in the North Arabian Sea, the European Union Naval Force: Somalia (EUNAVFOR) confirmed.
EU Naval Force spokesman Paddy O'Kennedy said the cargo ship MV Sinin was pirated approximately 350 nautical miles (648 kilometers) east of Masirah, an island off the East coast of Oman. He said the vessel has a dead weight of 52,466 tonnes and is both Maltese flagged and Malta owned.
The vessel was on its way to Singapore from Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates when it sent out a distress signal, saying she was under attack. "[A Combined Maritime Forces (CMF)] aircraft photographed two suspected pirate skiffs on board the vessel," O'Kennedy said. "There has been no communication with the ship since the distress signal was sent and the MV Sinin has now changed course towards the Somali coast."
The Maltese cargo ship is carrying a crew of 23 whom consist of 13 Iranian and 10 Indian nationals. "There is no information on the condition of the crew," O'Kennedy said.
Currently, Somali pirates are holding at least 30 vessels with a total of more than 686 hostages, according to the European Union Naval Force: Somalia, which keeps a record of pirating incidents. Most hijackings usually end without casualties when a ransom has been paid. This, however, often takes many months.
In recent years, Somali pirates have hijacked hundreds of ships, taking in hundreds of millions of dollars in ransom. Ships are patrolling the shipping lanes near Somalia in an effort to reduce hijackings, but the anti-piracy force has warned that attacks are likely to continue.
According to a recent study, maritime piracy cost the global economy up to $12 billion last year, with Somalia-based pirates responsible for 95 percent of the costs.
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