27 Apr 2009

Cruise ship crew repel pirates

5:15 am on 27 April 2009

An Italian cruise ship has repelled an attack by pirates off the coast of east Africa.

Commander Ciro Pinto, of the MSC Melody, which has a capacity of 1,500 passengers and crew, says the ship was slightly damaged by gunfire.

He told Italian television the ship came under attack when it was 960km off the Somali coast.

He says pistols were issued to security staff who opened fire as the pirates tried to climb the sides of the ship. The attackers were also sprayed with a firehose.

Passengers remained in their cabins during the fighting and there were no injuries.

The gang followed the Melody for another 20 minutes.

Pirates also seized an empty Yemeni oil tanker in the Gulf of Aden and clashed with coast guards on Sunday.