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April 11, 2009
ALERT! Pirates Capture another Vessel
Reuters is reporting the seizure of yet another vessel. It is not clear if an American citizen or business owns the ship. Though some reports claim that it is. The captured tugboat (which is flying under an Italian flag) apparently has enough food and fuel on board to last about a month.
Here are the latest details:
NAIROBI, April 11 (Reuters) - Pirates captured an Italian-flagged tugboat with 16 crew including 10 Italians on Saturday, in the latest hijacking in the busy Gulf of Aden.
"I've entered into contact with the families (of the crew)," Claudio Bartolotti, head of Ravenna-based Micoperi Srl, said, adding there were also five Romanians and one Croatian on board.
Bartolotti denied reports the 75-metre-long tugboat was U.S.-owned, saying his company had recently purchased it.
NATO alliance officials on a warship in the region had previously described the boat as U.S.-owned, Italian-flagged.
Andrew Mwangura, of the Mombasa-based East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme, said the tugboat's crew were believed to be unharmed.
He said the tugboat was towing two barges at the time of capture but there were no details about their cargo.
"This incident shows the pirates are becoming more daring and violent," Mwangura told Reuters by phone.
NATO alliance officials on board the Portuguese warship NRP Corte-Real, which is patrolling the Gulf of Aden, said a distress call came from the MV Buccaneer tugboat but communications were lost six minutes later.
Bartolotti said he received an email around midday (1000 GMT) informing him that the pirates had taken the ship. He said it came from the tugboat captain's email address but did not appear to be written by him.
He said calls to the boat so far had not been answered.
Hat tip: Otis Glazebrook (IV!)