The Malaysian-flagged MV Albedo container ship, seized by Somali pirates in November 2010, sank last week in rough seas a short distance offshore from the pirate-held town of Hobyo, on central Somalia's Indian Ocean coast.
While initially the crew were feared drowned, three have since been allowed to call their families, saying that 11 in total of the crew are alive, while four more are unaccounted for.
Begging for their release, families called on the pirates to let surviving crew members go, saying that now that the boat had sunk, its owners had no interest in paying ransom for its release.
"We appealed to everyone in this world to pay money towards the release of our people, but no one listened," they said in a written appeal to the pirates.
"We are very poor people, we even do not have any money to pay for medicines, school fees, buy food for our children."
The Albedo had more than 20 crew from several nations including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Iran on board when i