Page last updated at 21:09 GMT, Monday, 18 January 2010

Somali pirates free Greek tanker after record ransom

Maran Centaurus supertanker, file image
The Maran Cantaurus was seized near the Seychelles

Somali pirates have freed a Greek-owned oil tanker, a day after one of the largest ransoms ever paid was delivered to the ship, officials say.

The Maran Centaurus, one of the largest oil tankers ever seized, was captured on 29 November with 28 crew members.

A ransom of between $5.5m and $7m (£3.4m-£4.3m) was dropped on the deck of the supertanker.

The money sparked an argument among the pirates and it is believed that at least one of the hijackers has died.

The BBC's Somali Service has reports that as many as three pirates have died.

Residents of the Somali port town of Harardere said there were bodies in the streets after fierce infighting.

"I saw one dead body and two wounded but the final death toll may be more," town resident Abdullahi Haji Mohamed told the AFP news agency.

The European Naval forces confirmed to the BBC that there had been clashes delaying the release of the tanker, which is now under naval escort as it sails to South Africa.

Lawless coast

When it was hijacked, the Maran Centaurus was sailing near the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean, about 1,300km (800 miles) off Somalia.

Its crew is made up of 16 Filipinos, nine Greeks, two Ukrainians and one Romanian.

It is carrying about two million barrels of oil, the equivalent of the daily output of some of the world's top oil producers.

War-torn Somalia has had no functioning government since 1991, allowing pirates to operate along the lawless coast, almost with impunity.

In recent months, the pirates have started operating further from the Somali coast as international navies try to protect shipping against attacks.

In November 2008, another oil tanker, the Sirius Star, which was also carrying some two million barrels of oil, became the largest ship ever seized by pirates.

The vessel was released in January after a ransom of $3m (then £1.95m) was paid.

Print Sponsor


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

New StatesmanGreek tanker released after unprecedented ransom paid - 30 mins ago Pirates clash over cash - 2 hrs ago
China Post Pirates free oil tanker for record ransom - 7 hrs ago
Yahoo! News Pirates get record ransom for Greek supertanker (AFP) - 7 hrs ago
* Requires registration

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific