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No contact with hijacked Burmese crewmen

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The condition of three Burmese crewmen among a 25-member crew aboard a Singaporean- flagged container ship, the MV GEMINI owned by the Glory Ship Management Company, is still unknown. The ship was  hijacked by Somali pirates on April 30, according to the Rangoon office of Glory Ship Management Company.

The MV Gemini crew, with three Burmese seamen, has not been heard from since it was hijacked this month by Somalia pirates. Photo : http://cargo.homestead.comThirteen crewmen are Indonesian, five are Chinese and four are Korean.  

The vessel carried a 21,000-ton cargo of cooking oil and other goods. It was hijacked about 180 nautical miles off the coat of Kenya while traveling to Kenya from Malaysia.

The Glory Ship Management Company is working to obtain the crew’s release. The families of the Burmese crewmen have been informed, according to a company official, who said it has been unable to contact representatives of the pirates.

‘We hope the pirates let the crew contact the company soon to conduct negotiations’, a spokesman from the Rangoon branch office told Mizzima.

Htay Aung, a central executive committee member of the Seafarers Union of Burma (SUB), said that the pirates will demand money, but the crew is probably not in mortal danger.

Similarly, 23 Burmese crewmen aboard a Liberian-flagged cargo ship, the MV Panama, was hijacked by Somali pirates on December 10, 2010, while on its way from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to Beira in Mozambique. A ransom agreement has not been reached between the pirates and the St.Johns Ship Mangement Company which owns the MV Panama, according to the company’s Rangoon branch office.

The St.Johns Ship Mangement Company is still paying the crewmen’s salary. A spokesman at the Rangoon branch office said the pirates are still in negotiations with the company.

‘We hope an agreement will be reached soon. The families of the crewmen are very worried’, he told Mizzima.

Somali pirates hijacked a Korean cargo vessel, the Samho Jewelry, which carried 11 Burmese, eight Koreans, and two Indonesians in the Arabian Sea on January 15, 2011. But, within a week, all 21 crewmen were rescued by South Korean navy commandos. Eight of the pirates were killed and five captured by the commandos.

Some Burmese crewmen now do not want to work on vessels that will go through the Suez Canal, according to Htay Aung.

Joblessness and widespread poverty in Somalia have led to an increase in piracy and the problem should be dealt with by the US and European countries, Htay Aung said.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 05 May 2011 13:11 )  

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