British agents 'not in contact' with hijacked tanker

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The Independent Online

"No direct contact" has been made with a UK-flagged tanker attacked by Somali pirates since it was seized, the ship's managers said today.

The 7,926-tonne St James Park was captured in the Gulf of Aden while on its way to Thailand from Spain.



A spokesman for London-based Zodiac Maritime Agencies said: "There are no reports of any injuries to crew or vessel.



"The managers of the vessel are working closely with the naval authorities and other organisations to secure the early and safe release of all crew members.



"We have had no direct contact with the ship since it was hijacked."



The ship, which was captured on Monday, has 26 crew on board from Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, Philippines, Poland, Georgia, India and Turkey.



A spokesman for the European Union Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) said the ship, which was built in 1993, was hijacked while in the International Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) and is now heading towards the Somalia coast.



The IRTC, which is patrolled by international navies, was set up in February this year in a bid to protect ships travelling through the Gulf of Aden.



Noel Choong, of the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), said the St James Park sent a distress message late yesterday seeking help from pirate attacks.



He said the call was picked up by a Greek rescue centre that relayed the message to the IMB but the bureau had failed to establish communication with the vessel.



Mr Choong added that the tanker's owner later informed the IMB that the vessel has been seized.

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