15 May 2009

Tuvalu looks for help to rescue seamen held captive by Somali pirates

3:04 pm on 15 May 2009

Tuvalu's Transport Minister is seeking the support of other countries in the Pacific to put pressure on the Government of Somalia to release 12 Tuvaluan sailors being held hostage by pirates.

Taukelina Finikaso has told a Pacific Maritime Ministers meeting in Tonga that the seafarers from Tuvalu had been held prisoners for over a month.

He says the pirates have demanded 15 million US dollars from the owners of the 20,000-tonne container vessel, Hansa Stavanger.

The Pacnews agency reports the Tuvalu men are among 24 foreign hostages, including five Germans, three Russians, two Ukrainians and two Filipinos.

Mr Finikaso says the ransom is beyond the resources of the Tuvalu Government so it is appealing to the region to exert pressure on the Government of Somalia to negotiate with the pirates for the release of the seamen.