x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Hijacked crew nears Fujairah stopover

The crew of a chemical tanker freed by Somali pirates are due to arrive in Fujairah on Thursday.

The crew of a chemical tanker freed by Somali pirates after a reported ransom payment is due to arrive in Fujairah on Thursday, officials said yesterday. The 16 Filipinos and three Croatian crew members of the Japanese-operated MT Irene were held for seven weeks off the coast of Somalia. They were released last week for a reported US$1.6 million (Dh5.9m).

Staff from the Philippines Consulate in Dubai are to meet the crew when their vessel arrives at an anchorage off the Port of Fujairah. Benito Valeriano, the Philippines' consul general in Dubai, said the hostages would be assessed for psychological trauma and the Filipinos would leave for Manila the following day. He added: "We have no further information on their condition but we believe they are all fine."

The MT Irene had been heading to India on Aug 21 when it was captured in the Gulf of Aden. Meanwhile, officials said pirates hijacked a Greek tanker with 20 crew members in the Gulf of Aden on Friday. The ship reportedly had been travelling from South-east Asia to Europe when it was captured. And a standoff continues between US warships and pirates aboard the captured MV Faina, a Ukranian ship transporting 33 T-72 tanks, rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons to Kenya.

On Friday, the pirates reportedly threatened to destroy the Faina if they were not paid a $20m ransom by Monday night. There have been 27 hijackings this year near Somalia's coast and along the Gulf of Aden. @Email:kattwood@thenational.ae