Chinese ship seized as Somali piracy drifts East

NAIROBI, October 19, 2009 (AFP) – Somali pirates hijacked a Chinese bulk carrier Monday northeast of the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean, as the marauding sea bandits hunted their prey ever further from base to wrong-foot naval patrols. According to the European Union’s anti-piracy naval mission (EU NAVFOR), the unnamed ship was seized 550 nautical miles (1,000 kilometres) northeast of the Seychelles and 700 nautical miles off the east coast of Somalia.

“On indication of an attack an EU NAVFOR Maritime Patrol Aircraft, operating from the Seychelles was launched to investigate the incident,” the EU naval mission said in a statement from its headquarters in Britain.

The ship was not registered with the force’s Horn of Africa Maritime Security Centre, the statement added.

EU naval spokesman John Harbour told AFP the ship had a crew of 25, all of them Chinese nationals.

Chinese state media said the ship’s name was De Xin Hai and was carrying coal. China’s Ministry of Transport said relevant government agencies were making efforts to rescue the ship, which was en route from South Africa to India, according to Xinhua news agency.

According to maritime sources in the Indian Ocean, it is the first time pirates h