x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Success for MV Iceberg rescuers but the fight goes on

For the 22 freed crew aboard the MV Iceberg I, the nightmare is over. But there are still 119 people held hostage by Somali pirates aboard eight ships and another 23 sailors are being held ashore, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

For the 22 freed crew aboard the MV Iceberg I, the nightmare is over. But there are still 119 people held hostage by Somali pirates aboard eight ships and another 23 sailors are being held ashore, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

Experts say the efforts of combined naval patrols and armed private security guards aboard merchant vessels have reduced piracy attacks from 176 last year to 35 this year.

After Sunday's rescue, the MT Royal Grace is the only Dubai-owned ship still being held by pirates.

The empty ship was hijacked in March and its 22-man crew comprises 17 Indians, three Nigerians, a Pakistani and a Bangladeshi.

One crew member has died, reportedly due to a lack of medication.

Other ships being held are the MV Albedo with 15 hostages, Naham 3 with 29 hostages and the Smyrni with 26 hostages, according to the European Union Naval Force.

Albedo, a Malaysian flagged cargo vessel, has been held since November 25, 2010, while this year the Panama-flagged Royal Grace was seized on March 2, followed by the Naham on March 26 and the Smyrni on May 10.

* Ramola Talwar Badam