28 Apr 2009

Cruise ship under escort after pirates seized

4:46 pm on 28 April 2009

A cruise ship carrying 62 New Zealanders that repelled a pirate attack is being escorted by the Spanish military to the Port of Aqaba.

The Italian ship Melody, carrying 1,500 passengers and crew, was attacked 960 kilometres off the Somali coast, near the Seychelles, on Saturday.

The crew drove off the pirates with warning shots and high-pressure water hoses.

Kate Gohar, spokesperson for Auckland-based World Journeys, says the New Zealand tour leader on board has reported that everyone is safe and well.

Ms Gohar says a Spanish warship and a helicopter are escorting the Melody to the Red Sea port.

Spain says the warships caught nine pirates involved in the attack.

Spain says the frigate Numancia intercepted a small boat nearby with nine people "who could be connected to the hijacking attempt".

They have been handed over to a Seychelles ship.