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Somali pirates free Greek tanker after record ransom

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by MziziMkavu, Jan 19, 2010.

  1. MziziMkavu

    MziziMkavu JF-Expert Member

    Jan 19, 2010
    Joined: Feb 3, 2009
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    [​IMG] The Maran Cantaurus was seized near the Seychelles

    Somali pirates have freed a Greek-owned oil tanker, a day after one of the largest ransoms ever paid was delivered to the ship, pirates and officials say.
    The Maran Centaurus, one of the largest oil tankers ever seized, was captured on 29 November with 28 crew members.
    A ransom of between $5.5m (£3.4m) and $7m (£4.3m) was dropped on the deck of the supertanker.
    The money was said to have sparked an argument among the pirates and delayed the release of the ship.
    "She's free. She's preparing to sail out" from Harardhere, Andrew Mwangura, of the East African Seafarers Assistance Programme, told the AFP news agency.
    One pirate said the argument about the ransom money had been resolved.
    "We have agreed to solve our disagreements and release the ship. It is free and sailing away now," one of the pirates, Hassan, told Reuters news agency by telephone.
    "The crew are all safe."
    Lawless coast
    When it was hijacked, the Maran Centaurus was sailing near the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean, about 1,300km (800 miles) off Somalia.
    Its crew is made up of 16 Filipinos, nine Greeks, two Ukrainians and one Romanian.
    It is carrying about two million barrels of oil, the equivalent of the daily output of some of the world's top oil producers.
    War-torn Somalia has had no functioning government since 1991, allowing pirates to operate along the lawless coast, almost with impunity.
    In recent months, the pirates have started operating further from the Somali coast as international navies try to protect shipping against attacks.
    In November 2008, another oil tanker, the Sirius Star, which was also carrying some two million barrels of oil, became the largest ship ever seized by pirates.
    The vessel was released in January after a ransom of $3m (then £1.95m) was paid.