Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Danica White: Eight Weeks and Counting

The Danica WhiteHere’s the latest news about the Danica White, the Danish freighter that was captured by pirates off the coast of Somalia at the beginning of June.

First, from yesterday’s edition of the Danish newspaper Berlingske Tidende (my translation):

Hostages Enter Eighth Week

The hostage drama for the Danica White is going into its eighth week, and is still completely blacked out.

The Somali authorities have acceded to the violent pirates off the coast of Somalia, writes Ritzau.

According to Pottengal Mukundan, head of the International Maritime Bureau (IBM), the ship can expect no help from the Somali “authorities”.

That is allegedly one of the explanations why the five Danish sailors on board the Danica White have been held hostage by the pirates for such a long time. Friday brings the five Danish sailors into their eighth week since the pirates captured them on board the Danish freighter.

In consideration of the hostages’ security, the Foreign Ministry and the shipping company H. Folmer have imposed a total blackout on the matter. No publicity is allowed to escape.

The pirates, who hold five innocent Danish seamen as hostages, can easily have a network among Somali residents [in Denmark], who report home to the pirates in Somalia about any publicity that emerges in Denmark. According to FN, the pirates allegedly have a network in these countries, through which they attempt their captures at sea. In Denmark there are about 17,000 Somalis.

The Danica White was captured on June 1st in international waters, 210 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia, when it was on its way from Dubai to Mombasa with building materials. IBM recommends that ships in the area stay 200 nautical miles from the coast.

And now the pirates have named their price, according to today’s ABC News (Australia):
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Somali pirates demand $1.7m for Danish freighter

Pirates holding a Danish freighter off the Somali coast are demanding a $US1.5 million ($1.7 million) ransom for the release of the ship and its crew, according to a Kenyan maritime official.

The Danica White with five crew members was hijacked on June 2, about 240 nautical miles off the Somali coast while heading to Kenya’s Mombasa port to deliver about 1,000 tonnes of construction material.

“We were informed yesterday that the pirates are demanding $US1.5 million in order to release the vessel,” Andrew Mwangura of the Kenyan branch of the Seafarers’ Assistance Programme said.

Hat tip for the Berlingske Tidende article: LN.

Thanks to Phanarath for his help in correcting the translation.