Page last updated at 04:41 GMT, Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Indian ship crew in 'safe waters'

Indian warship off the Somali coast
The Indian navy is now patrolling off the Somali coast

The mainly Indian crew of a Japanese ship who were released by Somali pirates after two months in captivity are on their way home, reports say.

Seema Goyal, wife of the ship's captain PK Goyal, said her husband had informed her they were out of the danger zone.

Somali pirates captured the MV Stolt Valor with 18 Indian crew members on 15 September off the Somali coast.

The threat posed by pirates off the Somali coast has been causing international concern.

More than 80 ships have been hijacked off Somalia this year.


"My husband called up to say that they had entered safe waters and were looking for an escort ship. He has also sent an email to the ship's owners," Seema Goyal told the BBC.

Mrs Goyal said the crew would know later on Tuesday whether the ship would go to the western Indian city of Mumbai or a port in the United Arab Emirates.

Mrs Goyal has waged a high-profile media campaign to press for her husband's release.

"The crew is exhausted, they are stressed - both mentally and physically - because of the trauma they have gone through," she told the BBC on Monday.

"But they are in good spirits. My husband... is excited and we are looking forward to his return."

Indian media reports said a large ransom had been paid by the Japanese ship-owners. There has been no confirmation from the owners.

Last week, commandos operating from a warship of the Indian navy prevented an attempt by pirates to hijack an Indian ship off the Somali coast, the Indian navy said.

The navy has been conducting anti-piracy patrols in the region since 23 October because a sizeable portion of India's trade flows through it.

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