Somali Pirates Release Tanker

Somali pirates released a chemical tanker and its North Korean crew on Tuesday, after holding the vessel for four months. A maritime official says the 23,000 deadweight ton "Theresa VIII" was seized on November 16 last year in the south Somali Basin, with 28 crew members on board.Andrew Mwangura of the Kenya-based East African Seafarers Assistance Program says the vessel was released after a ransom of about US$3.5 million was paid.

Andrew Mwangura, East African Seafarers Assistance Program:
"MT Theresa is now free and she is underway heading to Mombassa. She is expected here in the next three to four days. MT Theresa and her 28 North Korean crew were hijacked by pirates about 140 nautical miles north west of Seychelles on the 16th of November while underway to Mombassa laden with palm oil."

Somali sea gangs have plagued the busy shipping lanes off the African nations coast for many years, earning ransoms worth millions of dollars from most vessels captured.Somali pirates are held responsible for more than half of the 406 reported incidents last year. They hijacked 47 vessels, taking 867 crew members hostage, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

Most vessels and crew are released unharmed after a ransom is paid, although some sailors say they were wounded during hijackings. Others complain about health problems after prolonged periods of captivity off the Somali coast.

Source: New Tang Dynasty Television