Friday, January 14, 2011

4 Pinoys among Danish ship’s crew abducted by pirates

At least four Filipino seafarers were among the crew of a Danish weapons ship who were believed to have been abducted by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean on Wednesday.

In a
report by shipping news site Tradewinds on Friday, the crew members of the ship Leopard, which included four Filipinos and two Danes, were believed to have been abducted by pirates after being unable to break into the ship.

The report said the pirates moved the seafarers to a Taiwanese fishing vessel, seized in December last year, and left Leopard behind, a major departure from Somali pirates’ usual modus operandi.

Members of the Turkish Navy boarded the abandoned ship and found no trace of any pirates or pirate skiffs and, after breaking into the ship’s citadel, also failed to find the crew.

The six seafarers were believed to have hidden inside the citadel after Leopard came under attack west of the Gulf of Aden on Wednesday afternoon.

Tradewinds said the six may currently be on board the Shiuh Fu No. 1, the seized Taiwanese fishing vessel being used by the pirates as their main ship.

The DFA is currently looking into the report, according to spokesperson Eduardo Malaya.

According to Tradewinds, Leopard, built in 1989 with a deadweight tonnage of 1,780 tons, is known to be carrying “sensitive" cargo, which may include weapons.

“Although ships operated by Shipcraft, the Leopard's Danish operator, routinely carry nuclear items, this vessel is not believed to have any onboard," Tradewinds said.

website of Shipcraft remains inaccessible as of posting time.

An earlier report by the Associated Press quoted Danish news agency Ritzau as saying that Shipcraft has been unable to contact the crew after initial reports of the attack, according to company manager Claus Bech. (See:
Report: Danish ship attacked in Gulf of Aden)

Prior to the incident, there were 109 Filipinos aboard 10 vessels who were being held captive by pirates, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The latest in the relentless string of piracy attacks was the capture of the MV Blida, which had two Filipinos among its crew of 27, seized 150 nautical miles southeast of port Salalah, Oman on New Year’s Day. (See:
2 Pinoy seafarers onboard pirate-seized MV Blida — DFA)

separate release by the United Filipino Seafarers said that in the year 2010, they recorded over 700 seafarers who were victims of piracy around the Horn of Africa in 243 incidents of piracy, of which at least 202 were staged by Somali pirates.

Globally, the piracy scourge off the coast of Somalia has affected 28 vessels and 654 hostages, according to the European Union Naval Force.

Of 1.2 million estimated seafarers worldwide, around one-fourth or more than 300,000 are Filipinos, the Apostleship of the Sea, a UK-based advocacy group, said.

Since Somalia descended into civil war in 1991, piracy off the Somali coast has been a threat to international shipping.

Piracy has added to huge increases in shipping costs and has impeded the delivery of food aid shipments; 90 percent of the World Food Program's shipments to Africa passing through the Somali coast now require a military escort.

Poverty is widespread in Somalia, with millions depending on food aid. In 2008, the World Bank reported as much as 73 percent of the population lived on a daily income below $2.—JV, GMANews.TV

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