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3 Feb, 2008 13:31

Pirates seize ship with Russian-British crew

A tug-boat with the Russian-British crew has been captured by pirates off the coast of Somalia. It was the captain who raised the alert. The 'Svitzer Korsakov' tug was on its way from St. Petersburg to Sakhalin – an island off Russia's Far East

All contact was lost on Friday following a distress call, received by the Danish company that owns the ship.

All of the crew members are reportedly unharmed and are still onboard.

Ship's owners are in talks with the pirates attempting to negotiate the release of the crew.

Patrick Adamson, spokesperson for the Svitzer company said the families of the crew members have been informed about the incident.

“Onboard there are four Russian crew members and there are two other persons from the company which is commissioned to mobilise the vessel – that is to take it from St. Petersburg to Sakhalin. That is the captain, who is a British subject, and the first officer, who is I believe an Irish. It's to early to say what the situation is onboard but of course once proper contact has been established we'll be in a better position to see what's happening,” he said.

Russia has informed the NATO fleet of the situation.

Experts say there is no danger to the vessel's crew as long as the captors get their money.

Piracy has become a regular occurrence off the coast of Somalia, with several incidents reported each year.

Somalia pirates are unchecked as the country has had no effective government since 1991.

The country's authorities argue they lack the resources and organisation to crack down on piracy.