MV Albedo Sinks After Nearly 3 Years in CaptivityJuly 12, 2013 in Somalia
At least eleven people have died after a vessel, which was being held by pirates for ransom for nearly three years, sinks off the coast of Somalia.
According to reports, at least four foreign crew members and seven Somali pirates died when a cargo ship, that Somali pirates were holding for ransom, sank off the coast of Somalia earlier this week. Fifteen other crew members are reported to still be missing. The Malaysian-owned MV Albedo cargo vessel, along with its crew members, was hijacked 900 miles off the coast of Somalia on 26 November 2010. At the time, the vessel was en route from the United Arab Emirates to Kenya. According to one of the pirates holding the vessel, “the ship had been gradually sinking for almost a week, but it sank totally last night…we have confirmed that four foreign crew and seven pirates are dead. We are missing 13 in total…we had no boats to save them.”
The MV Albedo originally had twenty-three crew members on board, comprising of Bangladeshi (7), Pakistani (7), Sri Lankan (6), Indian (2) and Iranian (1) nationals, when the vessel was seized nearly three years ago. The seven Pakistani hostages, Captain Jawaid Saleem, Chief Officer Mujaba, Third Officer Raheel Anwar, Fourth Engieer Zulfiqar Ali along with some sailors Kashif Naveed, Faqeer Mohammad Soomro and Ahsan Islam, were released in August 2012 following a payment of ransom that reportedly amounted to US $1.1 million. One Indian crew member, Raju Prasad, died on board the vessel in July 2011. However the cause of his death remains to be undetermined as varying reports have suggested that he either died from cholera or was shot in the chest by the pirates holding the vessel captive after a heated telephone conversation with the ship’s owners. After the Pakistani crew members were freed in 2012, they confirmed that during their time in captivity, they had been tortured by their captors, being locked in solitary confinement or all made to stand outside for several days without food, water or any facilities.
The EU Naval Force has also confirmed that the whereabouts of the fifteen crew members continue to be unclear. A statement released by the EU Naval Force indicated that it “can confirm that the Malaysian flagged motor vessel MV Albedo, held by armed pirates at an anchorage close to the Somali coast, has sunk in rough seas.” Further noting that “an EU Naval Force warship and Maritime Police Aircraft have closed the sea area and are carrying out a search and rescue operation to search for any survivors. The whereabouts of the 15 crew members from the MV Albedo is still to be confirmed.” It has been reported that some of the hostages had been held on land while the pirates demanded ransoms from the ship’s owners for their release, while some the crew members had been held on board the ship.
The EU Naval Force has currently closed off the surrounding area of sea and is carrying out a search and rescue operation for any survivors of the 15,566 dwt cargo ship.