Spanish oil tanker hijacked off W/A freed, crew OK

24 September, 2011, Sweetcrude, MADRID- A Spanish oil tanker that was hijacked by pirates off West Africa 10 days ago was freed Saturday and the 23-member crew is OK, its owner said.

No ransom was paid for the release of the Cypriot-flagged Mattheos I, although pirates who seized it stole as much as they could of the diesel fuel it was carrying as cargo, said Consultores de Navegacion spokeswoman Sheena Campbell.

One crew member was slightly injured when he was hit by a pirate, but all the other crew members are fine, she said in Madrid.

The ship is now off the coast of Nigeria. The crew comprises five Spaniards, two Ukrainians and the rest Filipinos. Campbell would not say which one was hurt.

The Spanish Foreign Ministry also confirmed the ship had been released.

The vessel was seized Sept. 14 as it idled 62 nautical miles from Benin’s capital Cotonou while transferring diesel fuel cargo to another ship.

Campbell said then that in such hijackings off West Africa, pirates are usually after the cargo rather than ransom money as is the case in Indian Ocean hijackings by Somali pirates.

Spanish National Radio reached the Mattheos I by phone Saturday morning and a terse, unnamed crew member said “there is nothing to worry about” but gave no details of the ordeal or the release.

Article by:  Associated Press   

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