British and US forces freed an Italian cargo ship hijacked by Somali pirates in a dramatic rescue after retrieving a message in a bottle tossed by hostages from a porthole alerting ships nearby that the crew was safely sealed inside an armored area.
All 23 crew members of the MV Montecristo cargo ship were brought to safety on Tuesday, the Italian Foreign Ministry said. The 11 pirates were taken into custody.
The crew — seven Italians, six Ukrainians and 10 Indians — locked themselves inside an armored area of the vessel when the pirates boarded the ship on Monday, Italian Defense Minister Ignazio La Russa said. Safe from the pirates’ threats, the crew continued to navigate the ship.
“The criminals managed to cut off all means of communication, but the ‘prisoners’ tossed a bottle with a message through a porthole explaining the situation,” La Russa told a news conference.
At that point, other ships in the area were aware that the Italian vessel had been boarded by pirates. The message in the bottle gave an important signal that the crew of the Italian ship was out of harm’s way and that a rescue operation could be launched without risking injury.
“Rubber boats circled the Montecristo, while a helicopter hovered above. The pirates surrendered right away, some throwing their weapons in the sea, and were arrested,” he said.
One crew member sustained a light hand injury, La Russa said.
The pirates attacked the ship on Monday 1,000km off Somalia as the crew was hauling scrap iron to Vietnam on a journey that had begun on Sept. 20 in Liverpool, England.
The father of one of the crew members, Pietro Raimondo, said Italian officials had told him that his son was in good shape.
“We are happy. We are celebrating the liberation,” said Antonio Raimondo from Sardinia, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.
The operation was carried out by two navy ships — one British and one from the US — and coordinated by Italian Admiral Gualtiero Mattesi as part of NATO’s Ocean Shield anti-piracy force, according to the Italian Foreign Ministry.
Britain’s Defense Ministry said the RFA Fort Victoria “responded to calls to assist a pirated Italian merchant ship, the MV Montecristo, along with an American Navy frigate.”
Because of the presence of warships, the pirates on board surrendered without force, it said.
Earlier on Tuesday, La Russa said security forces — groups of six armed marines — can be used as security guards on Italian ships sailing in perilous waters, noting that “the danger of piracy has increased.”
International militaries are increasingly tasking assault teams with boarding ships and battling pirates in order to win the release of hostages.
In April this year, a Danish assault team freed 18 hostages after boarding a vessel off Somalia’s coast. Three pirates were wounded.
Only 10 days later South Korean commandos stormed a container ships and freed the 21 crew members on board. In May, Indonesian forces killed four pirates after the hostage-takers were paid a ransom and freed hostages.
However, for every successful attack against hostage-taking pirates, far more pirates and seized vessels make it back to Somalia with their hostages in hand.
BEIJING BAILOUT: Pyongyang’s economic woes would not lead to famine because China will not let that happen due to its fear of a pro-US unified Korea, experts say North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has called for another “arduous march” to fight severe economic difficulties, for the first time comparing them to a 1990s famine that killed hundreds of thousands. Kim had previously said his nation faces its “worst-ever” situation due to several factors — including the COVID-19 pandemic, US-led sanctions and natural disasters in the summer last year — but it is the first time he has publicly drawn a parallel with the deadly famine. North Korea monitoring groups have not detected any signs of mass starvation or a humanitarian disaster, but Kim’s comments still suggest how seriously he views
‘VOSTOK 1’: The first flight attempt is planned to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the first space flight by Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin NASA’s Ingenuity mini-helicopter has survived its first night alone on the frigid surface of Mars, the US space agency said, hailing it as “a major milestone” for the tiny craft as it prepares for its first flight. The ultra-light aircraft was dropped on the surface on Saturday after detaching from the belly of the Perseverance rover, which touched down on Feb. 18. Detached from the Perseverance, Ingenuity had to rely on its own solar-powered battery to run a vital heater to protect its unshielded electrical components from freezing and cracking during the bitter Martian night, where temperatures can plunge as low as
LOSING CONTROL? Fitch Solutions said that a revolution pitting the military against the anti-coup movement and ethnic militias was likely due to the rising violence Burmese security forces yesterday arrested Paing Takhon, a model and actor who had spoken out against a military coup, his sister told reporters, as people placed shoes filled with flowers in parts of Yangon to commemorate dead protesters. Troops on Wednesday opened fire on protesters, killing at least 15 people and wounding dozens, protesters and media said. Nearly 600 civilians have been killed by security forces since the junta in February seized power from the elected government of Aung San Su Kyi, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said on Wednesday. The advocacy group said that 2,847 were being held in detention. A spokesman
A years-long David and Goliath fight which has seen two Australian surfers take on a Chinese-linked company over alleged damage of an idyllic Fijian island has come to its conclusion after a court handed down a guilty verdict against the developers yesterday. The case has been described by Pacific legal experts as a “watershed” moment that tested Fijian environmental laws, as well as the willingness of the nation — which presents itself as a global climate leader — to “walk the walk” on environmental issues. Freesoul, a Chinese-linked company, in 2018 began work on Malolo Island, with plans to build Fiji’s largest