Bangladesh loses communication with hijacked ship

December 7th, 2010 - 1:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Sheikh Hasina Dhaka, Dec 7 (IANS) The Bangladesh authorities have lost communication links with the ship carrying 26 people that was hijacked by Somali pirates two days ago close to India’s Lakshadweep islands, says a report.

The MV Jahan Moni, which was going to Greece, was hijacked in the Arabian Sea Sunday with 26 crew members on board. The fate of 25 crew members and the wife of its chief engineer remained unknown, as they could not be contacted till Monday afternoon.

The pirates did not contact any authority or make any ransom demand, The Daily Star said Monday.

MV Jahan Moni, spotted in the Arabian Sea, some 1,100 nautical miles off the Somali coast, started heading for the coast at a speed of 10 nautical mile an hour at 4 p.m. Monday, said the Mercantile Marine Department of Bangladesh that is monitoring the ship via satellite.

Brave Royal Ship Management, the operating company of the ship, said it got a message around 3.30 p.m. Sunday from the ship’s security cell that pirates attacked it.

“We got the same messages for the second time at about 4.30 p.m. and kept communicating with the crew till 5.30 p.m. but we lost all communication since then,” said Meherul Karim, general manager of the company.

Meherul suspects that the pirates mighty demand a ransom once the ship reaches the Somalia coast.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has asked the foreign ministry to contact the authorities of the countries concerned to rescue the ship.

Somali pirates are making tens of millions of dollars in ransom capturing ships in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden, although Sunday’s hijack happened nearly 3,000 km (1,864 miles) east of Somalia.

Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan said: “We want to rescue the crew and the ship through negotiation with the pirates. But it might take a few days since the ship is likely to reach the African coast after four days.”

“Somali pirates hijacked 31 ships this year but did not kill anyone. I hope the sailors could be rescued within four days,” the minister said.

The pirates now hold 23 vessels, including the Bangladeshi ship, and 547 hostages, says the website of the European Union Naval Force.

The vessel carrying 43,150 tonnes of nickel was on its way to Greece from Indonesia through the Suez Canal. It anchored at the Singapore port for refuelling before heading for Greece, shipping ministry officials said.

Captain Habibur Rahman, principal officer of the Mercantile Marine Department, said that earlier they were able to locate the ship via satellite every 15 minutes.

The Bangladesh government has contacted several international agencies that combat sea piracy.

The government officials are in constant touch with the family members of the abductees, he said.

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