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Somali pirates hijack two LPG tankers in 24 hours

Somali pirates seized control of the German-owned merchant vessel Beluga Fortune in the Indian Ocean on Sunday, the second hijacking in the region in as many days, a regional maritime official said.

"The Beluga Fortune was taken today in the Somali basin. We don' t know yet exactly where she was hijacked or where she was heading to," Andrew Mwangura of the East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme told Reuters.

The Beluga Fortune is owned by the Bremen-based Beluga Shipping. Mwangura said the vessel was likely flying a flag of convenience. It was not immediately clear how many crew were aboard at the time the ship was commandeered by pirates, nor what it was carrying.

Somalia has lacked an effective central government for almost two decades and is awash with weapons. The mayhem on land has allowed piracy to boom in the strategic waterways off its shores linking Europe to Asia and Africa.

Earlier, it was reported sea-bandits from the lawless Horn of Africa nation had grabbed a Singapore-flagged liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) tanker 50 miles (80km) off the coast of east Africa.

Mwangura said the pirates seized the Greek-managed MV York off Kenya on Saturday afternoon, less than 12 hours after it sailed from the Kenyan port of Mombasa.  The European naval force, EU Navfor, said the vessel had a crew of 17, including a German master, two Ukrainians and 14 Filipinos, and was seized 50 miles (80 kms) from Mombasa.

"She was taken at 1730 local time. She was sailing empty after discharging her LPG cargo at the Shimanzi oil terminal in Mombasa," Mwangura told Reuters.

A pirate who identified himself as Hassan told Reuters by telephone that the LPG tanker, which has a deadweight of 5,076 tonnes, was heading for Garad, a pirate base on the coast of central Somalia.

Somali pirates are holding 20 vessels with more than 430 hostages, according to EU Navfor. Typically they earn a ransom for their release.

Source: Reuters

10/26/2010

 

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