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Somali pirates hijack Italian ship with Indians on board

Mumbai: Pirates took control of an Italian-flagged oil tanker after firing shots at off the coast of Somalia in the Indian Ocean on Tuesday.

There was a crew of 17 Indians and five Italians onboard and no one was injured in the attack on the Savina Caylyn, some 500 miles off the coast of India and some 800 miles off the coast of Somalia.

Coast Guard officials here said it would be handled by the Italian navy as the incident did not occur in Indian waters.

The Italian Navy said at least five pirates participated in the attack at about 06:25 GMT and its frigate was heading to the scene.

The tanker was boarded after a sustained attack by one skiff with five suspected pirates firing small arms and four rocket-propelled grenades.

The European Union’s anti-piracy mission ( Atlanta) said in a statement posted on its website that the attack occurred early on Tuesday morning about 670 nautical miles east of the Yemeni island of Socotra. The website said Savina Caylyn was heading from Bashayer in Sudan to Pasir Gudang in Malaysia when it was attacked, and “there is presently no communication with the vessel and no information regarding the crew”.

The ship appears to be moving west towards Somalia, an official said.

The attacks have spurred a 36-fold jump in ransoms in five years, raising costs for shippers and the threat to vessels carrying 20% of world trade, the Louisville, Colorado-based One Earth Future Foundation estimated.

The raids are adding at least $2.4 billion to transport costs as vessels are being diverted to longer routes, as average ransom payments rose to $5.4 million last year, compared with $150,000 in 2005, the non- profit group said.

The Savina Caylyn is 266 metres long and 46 meters wide.

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