More hostages die at the hands of pirates
29 June 2012The latest report on piracy, from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) and Oceans Beyond Piracy project, shows that although the number of successful pirate hijacks has been falling, more hostages have been killed or injured while in pirate hands.
In 2011, 35 hostages died, most while they tried to escape during rescue operations. Others were killed by the pirates themselves or died due to malnutrition or disease during captivity.
The deaths are a marked change in the previous picture of piracy, where hostages were valued because of their ransom potential. In some cases, the pirates have held on to hostages even though ransoms have been paid.
More seafarers are also coming under attack from armed pirates. In 2011, nearly 4,000 seafarers were fired upon by Somali pirates, including 968 seafarers who faced armed pirates on board their vessels, and 413 who were rescued from secure citadels by naval forces.
The report, The Human Cost of Piracy 2011, says that Somali pirates held at least 1,206 hostages in 2011, including 555 captured that year and 645 seized in 2010.
Half of those held had been punched and slapped, and 10 per cent had suffered violent abuse and torture.
The average length of captivity has also increased to more than eight months.
The most recent figures from the IMB worldwide piracy reporting centre indicate that on 25 June, Somali pirates held captive about 13 vessels and 185 hostages. Hostages continue to include seven Indian seafarers from the Asphalt Venture and four South Koreans from the Gemini, still held captive despite the payment of ransoms.
The latest incidents worldwide reported to the IMB include:
- Armed pirates in a dhow approached and fired on a bulk carrier around 110 nautical miles north of Socotra Island, Yemen on 27 June after the onboard armed security team had fired warning shots. After an exchange of fire, the pirates abandoned the attack and moved away.
- Two robbers armed with knives boarded a container ship anchored at Chittagong, Bangladesh on 26 June. One attacked the deck watchkeeper and the alarm was raised, but when the crew mustered around 15 robbers were spotted in a boat moving way with stolen ship's stores.
- Pirates armed with guns in two skiffs approached a tanker 48 nautical miles off Fujairah, Oman on 25 June. The vessel fired warning flares, increased speed, took evasive manoeuvres, and alerted naval forces. An Iranian warship escorted the tanker until it was clear of the skiffs.
All attacks and suspicious sightings should be reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre, Tel: +603 2031 0014 (24 hours), Email: firstname.lastname@example.org