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All crew released by Somali pirates safe, says MOFA

Military vessels will escort the boat and its crew during its return voyage to Taiwan

All crew released by Somali pirates safe, says MOFA

All 30 crew members of a Taiwanese deep-sea fishing vessel are safe and on their way back to Taiwan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) reiterated yesterday, rebutting media reports that three of its crew had died.
The 700-ton longliner Win Far 161 and its crew of 30 were released the previous day by Somali pirates who hijacked the vessel near an island in the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean April 6, 2009 and held them for 10 months.
According to the ministry's most recent contact with the boat's owner, the crew of 30, including 17 Filipinos, six Indonesians, five Chinese and two Taiwanese, are safe, a MOFA official said, adding that military vessels in adjacent waters will escort the boat and its crew, as well as provide food, water and health services during its return voyage to Taiwan.
"Reports of the death of two Indonesians and a Chinese are false and groundless," the official said.
The official also rebutted reports that the hostages' respective authorities did not provide any assistance in attempts to facilitate humanitarian relief, saying that the rescue was a coordinated international effort that involved many international organizations.
The MOFA helped the owner to contact various international maritime and anti-piracy organizations to seek humanitarian aid and protection for the ship and its crew upon release, according to the official.
The ministry had also been in contact with United Kingdom's Maritime Trade Operations, the office of the U.S. Navy Fifth Fleet in Bahrain, the United Nations' International Maritime Organization, as well as government agencies in Somalia and the Seychelles for assistance over the past 10 months, the official went on.
The rescue efforts were fraught with difficulty because of the Somalian interim provisional government's inability to rule the country and because of the withdrawal of U.S., British and U.N. bases and other international organizations from the country due to the political unrest there, the MOFA said.
According to the maritime watchdog Ecoterra International, the Win Far 161 had been poaching in Somali waters when it was hijacked in the longest-running case of Somali piracy.