Somali pirates have seized a Japanese-owned cargo ship with 20 Filipino crew members onboard, the European Union Naval Force said on Monday.
The owners of the Panama-flagged Izumi received an automatically released distress signal on Sunday afternoon, indicating that the vessel was likely under attack by pirates, said E.U. Naval Force spokesman Lt. Col. Per Klingvall.
A Danish warship was sent to investigate and made contact with the Izumi’s captain early Monday. He reported that the ship was under pirate control. It is now travelling to Somalia and is around 270 km south of the Somali capital of Mogadishu.
A French warship is monitoring the situation as the Izumi heads toward Somalia, said Lt. Col. Klingvall.
The Izumi is operated by NYK-Hinode Line and was travelling between Singapore and Mombasa, said Yuki Shimoda, an official at Japan’s Transport Ministry. It was not immediately known what cargo the 14,152-tonne Izumi was carrying.
Somali pirates now hold 18 ships and 389 crew. The sailors are not usually hurt or killed but can be held for months while their captors negotiate a multimillion-dollar ransom.