Sunday, June 22, 2008

First Look - 22 June 2008

Negotiations With Pirates in Gulf of Aden Inconclusive

A report from the Gulf of Aden where pirates have captured two vessels with Russian sailors aboad. The situation is critical - the cargo vessel "Lemann Tamber" will run out of fuel tommorrow, cutting off electricity and the crew is without food or potable water. Negotiations with the pirates are unsuccessful.

In a radio telephone call with Valentin Bartashev, the captain of the "Tamber" explains how they have run out of water and food after almost a month of captivity. Bartashev explains that the company suggested breaking into the emergency rations in the survival gear but the pirates have not allowed access to the gear. All tweleve members of the crew are being confined in a 6-9 meter/square space above deck. Through an interlocutor, the families of the imprisoned men have communications with them. The interlocutor, the editor of a maritime journal Mikhail Vojenko says that the situation is unstable and the pirates are constantly under the influence of narcotics and they constantly threaten to execute the whole crew. Other times they threaten to take the crew ashore and negotiate from there. Vojtenko says that the pirates have painted themselves in a corner and have nothing to do but wait for payment of ransom, originally $2 million, now $750,000. The company has already agreed to pay the ransom, but a question remains about how fast the company can deliver the money. Use of force against the pirates has for now been ruled out while the prisoner's lives are in danger. The reporter notes that less than two miles away is a second ship with Russian sailors aboard. There, without giving details, the reporter asserts that conditions are harsher and time is also running out for them.