Crew seeks return home as Jordanian ship runs aground

Dec 24, 2006 (AFP) – The Iraqi skipper of a cargo vessel that ran aground near Tamil Tiger-held territory in Sri Lanka asked Red Cross officials on Sunday to arrange the crew’s return home, the guerrillas said.

The Jordanian-registered Farha III ship ran aground in northeastern Sri Lanka late Saturday, sparking a war of words between rebels and government forces.

The rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) said the 25-member crew, of mainly Egyptian and Jordanian nationality, met with officials of the International Committee of the Red Cross in the rebel-held town of Kilinochchi.

“They asked the ICRC to make arrangements at the earliest for their return home,” LTTE spokesman Rasiah Ilanthiriyan told AFP from Kilinochchi, 330 kilometres (203 miles) north of the capital Colombo.

He said the Iraqi skipper and his crew made contact with the nearest Jordanian embassy in New Delhi and the Egyptian mission in Colombo and were hopeful of returning home soon.

“They spent time in Kilinochchi buying gifts to take home,” Ilanthiriyan said.

He added their vessel ran aground after drifting for several hours following engine trouble.

“Our engineers worked together with the crew