Ship Hostage Dies Of Hunger

Yemeni seafarer held hostage by pirates has died of malnutrition as UN reports violent hijackings on the rise.

The man died on the 5,400-dwt Iceberg I (built 1976) on 27 October, after 7 months held prisoner on the ship according to maritime monitoring agency Ecoterra International.

Three of the remaining 23 crew on the vessel, owned by Dubai-based Azal Shipping, could soon suffer the same fate as food and water supplies run low.

"The sad death of the sailor was apparently a combination of malnutrition and distress. They say they had to strap another sailor down to prevent him from killing himself," an Ecoterra spokesman told Dubai media.

Azal Shipping has held negotiations with the hijackers but the ransom requested far exceeds the amount the owner is willing to pay

The ship was captured in March by 50 Somali pirates and taken to Kulub, in Somalia.

Crew members are from Yemen, India, Ghana, Sudan, Pakistan and the Philippines.

 Meanwhile the SINGAPORE BUSINESS TIMES pirates are getting bolder increasing highjackings in 2010 and expanding their attack zone.

Pirates staged 37 successful hijackings of ships in the first 10 months of 2010, up from 33 in the same period of 2009, said a report. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called  pirates a 'scourge'.

Only this week  pirates hijacked a Comoran-flagged vessel as it headed to Tanzania from the Comoros with 29 crew on board, the European Union anti- piracy mission said.

'On the morning of Nov 3, 2010, the master of the MV Aly Zoulfecar reported that pirates were on board,' the statement said.

International Maritime Organization (IMO) inquiries 'imply that the level of violence employed by the pirates has increased', said the UN document prepared for the UN Security Council.

As  of Oct 11, 389 people and 18 vessels were being held ransom by the pirates.

The international military presence has reduced the number of attacks and hijackings in the Gulf of Aden shipping lanes, but the pirates now roam the southern end of the Red Sea and even venture as far as the Maldives, the report said.

'This eastward and southward shift in piracy has brought a much greater maritime area under threat,' said the report.

'The plight of the 389 hostages currently held by pirates on Somali territory is of particular concern,' Mr Ban commented in the document. The hostages include crew from Asia, Africa, the Middle East ,and Europe, as well as tourists from Western Europe, said the report.

Nato ships alone had disrupted 148 pirate attacks this year and another US- led fleet had stopped 'multiple' others.

The report said there was evidence the pirates have moved into new criminal areas such as smuggling contraband and trafficking people.

See TIME Magazine Somali pirate photo essay