Russia-Crewed Ship Believed Hijacked in Europe WatersWorld | August 12, 2009, Wednesday // 15:20| views
The Arctic Sea, carrying a 6 500-tonne cargo of timber from Finland to Algeria, was last heard of two weeks ago when it passed through the English Channel. Photo by yle.fi
A Russian-crewed cargo ship is feared to have been hijacked after being involved in what appears to be an unprecedented incident of piracy in European waters.
The Arctic Sea, carrying a 6 500-tonne cargo of timber from Finland to Algeria, was last heard of two weeks ago when it passed through the English Channel, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes, CNN reported.
Mark Clark of the British Maritime and Coastguard Agency said the ship crewed by 15 Russians made last radio contact on July 28.
He said the agency was belatedly asked by Interpol on August 3 to look out for the Arctic Sea because it has been involved in a hijacking incident off the coast of Sweden on July 24.
Swedish press reports, quoting police and shipping company officials, say the crew were tied up for 12 hours after hijackers boarded at 3 am. The hijackers searched the vessel, injured several crew members but took nothing, they said.
The ship, which embarked from Jakobstad in Finland, had been due to arrive in Bejaia in northern Algeria on August 4.
While piracy levels have recently increased off the coast of East Africa, incidents in European waters are unheard of, according to UK maritime experts.
"Attacks on ships are extremely rare, basically they don't happen", Jeremy Harrison of the British Chamber of Shipping said.
The Arctic Sea is Maltese-flagged and Latvian-owned but operated by Finnish firm Solchart Management. Its EUR 50 000 cargo of sawn timber is owned by another Finnish company, Stora Enso.
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