MOSCOW, October 13 (Itar-Tass) — The crew of a Russian ship seized by Nigerian pirates is alive, Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said on Thursday.
“We’ve gotten information from a ship owner saying all 20 crewmembers are alive. No harm was done,” the diplomat said.
According to different data, three or Russian citizens are aboard the ship. “Pirates’ demands have not reported till now,” he added.
“We maintain contacts with our embassy in Nigeria. According to our Nigerian partners, the ship was seized on October 8 about 90 nautical miles from Lagos,” Lukashevich said.
“Our embassy in Nigeria maintains contacts with the Nigerian authorities in order to clarify the situation and release the crew as soon as possible,” he said.
“We have confirmation from the Hamburg branch of the shipping company, which owns the vessel, that there are four Russians among the crew,” Polyakov told RIA Novosti on Wednesday, October 12.
“We are working in all directions to receive more detailed information and to understand how the ship and the crew, regardless of their nationality, will be released,” the diplomat said.
The Russian Sailors Union said earlier negotiations with pirates on terms of the release of the vessel and the 20-man crew, which also includes nationals of Georgia, Ukraine and Latvia, had already begun.
According to Denmark-based security firm Risk Intelligence, piracy in the oil-rich region along the coast of West Africa's Gulf of Guinea has escalated from low-level armed robberies to hijackings and cargo thefts.
Unlike Somalia pirates, the Nigerian hijackers either use captured ships to transfer oil or steal the crude or refined oil that is on board. The crews are usually released within ten days after the capture.