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          Hijacked ship recovered in record time

          • Kuala Lumpur, 10 May 2001

          A hijacked ship with a cargo worth 2.2 million dollars has been recovered in record time after an IMB alert sparked a regional search.

          MV Inabukwa, an Indonesian vessel, was attacked in March by a team of armed pirates while heading for Singapore with a cargo of tin and pepper. The captain and crew were taken hostage and abandoned on a deserted island, but were rescued after a few days.

          ICC's International Maritime Bureau (IMB) issued a "Special Alert" from its piracy reporting centre in Kuala Lumpur warning authorities in the region to be on the look out for the missing vessel, and within five days a sighting of the ship was reported.

          "This is the fastest recovery of a hijacked ship that we have coordinated." said Pottengal Mukundan, Director of ICC's International Maritime Bureau. " The IMB received confidential information that the vessel was attempting to sell her cargo to buyers in the Philippines and Vietnam. A few weeks after IMB raised the alarm, Philippine coastguard boarde d a vessel in the Ilocos province which appeared to be suspicious and had its original name removed at the bows.

          "Investigations conducted by the IMB quickly confirmed that the vessel's identity was false. The Philippine coastguard confirmed that the vessel was indeed the Inabukwa and that the cargo was intact on board. The positive action taken by the Philippine coastguard must be commended and will send a clear signal to pirates that there is no safe haven for them in the Philippines. "

          According to IMB, pressure is now on Indonesia to extradite and prosecute the seven Indonesians found on board the ship at the time of her arrest. Negotiations with the Philippine authorities are continuing.

          Recent reports received by the IMB piracy reporting centre show that piracy around the world is still a growing business with 100 attacks reported already this year.

          "Piracy is a real problem today, particularly in areas like Indonesia, Africa and increasingly on the Red Sea." said Captain Mukundan. "Pirates are more determined than ever, often attacking boats in teams of twenty or more men armed with knives, daggers and guns."

          But according to Captain Mukundan, the IMB figures revealed that the proportion of successful attacks to attempted attacks is falling, despite the increased activity of pirates at sea.

          Through increased cooperation with authorities in the key danger areas, IMB say their warnings are alerting more and more seafarers to piracy risks. If ships crews are ready to defend themselves at sea, they can scare off any pirates before they attempt to board.

          IMB's Piracy Reporting Centre has been involved in most major attempts to locate hijacked and stolen ships in recent years, and nine of the past ten serious recovery operations were successful.

          IMB is a division of the International Chamber of Commerce. Its piracy reporting centre was set up in 1992. IMB publishes a world piracy report on this website every week.

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