A long-line fishing trawler that has been out of contact since Tuesday has been captured by Somali pirates, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official said yesterday.
Speaking via telephone with the Taipei Times, Samuel Chen (陳士良), director-general of the ministry's Department of African Affairs, said that based on information it received from another Taiwanese fishing vessel, the 79-tonne Jih-chun Tsai No. 68 (日春財68號) appeared to be on its way to the pirates' base on the Somali coast after being seized.
“There has been no communication since the vessel [Jih-chun Tsai No. 68] was captured. We haven't been able to contact the captain and probably won't be able to until they arrive at the pirates' base, which is expected [today],” Chen said.
He said that there were 14 crew members on board, including Taiwanese captain Wu Lai-yu (吳來于), two Chinese and 11 Indonesians.
News of the capture only came to light after the Ruei Man Fa (瑞滿發), another Taiwanese fishing vessel, informed a local radio station that it had been attacked by what appeared to be a Taiwanese trawler, now believed to be the Jih-chun Tsai No. 68.
A press release issued by the ministry on Thursday night said the Ruei Man Fa was attacked about 730km southeast of Somalia's Cape Guardafui.
Chen yesterday visited Wu's wife in Pingtung's Siaoliouciou (小琉球) to let her know that the government was working for the quick and safe return of her husband.
He also visited the families of Hsu Ching-tsuan (許清鑽) and Huang Ken-jui (黃崑瑞), the two Taiwanese on board the Ruei Man Fa, in Donggang Township (東港), Pingtung County.
The Ruei Man Fa is heading to the Maldives to seek medical assistance for an Indonesian crew member who was shot during a three-hour chase, Chen said, adding that all other crew members were unharmed.
He said the government was seeking help from the Piracy Reporting Center at the International Maritime Organization's International Maritime Bureau in Kuala Lumpur, the UK Maritime Trade Organization and the US Fifth Fleet under Naval Forces Central Command in Bahrain to rescue the hijacked vessel.
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