Bulgaria Captain of Hijacked 'Asian Glory' Reported Missing

Diplomacy | March 24, 2010, Wednesday // 14:22|  views

The Bulgarian captain of the hijacked 'Asian Glory' has not been seen since March 6, according to reports from relatives of the ship's Ukrainian crew. Photo by BGNES

The Bulgarian captain of the "Asian Glory", hijacked over three months ago by Somali pirates, has been missing since March 6.

The news has been reported by relatives of the 10 Ukrainian sailors who are part of the crew, along with eight Bulgarian nationals.

The family members had turned for help to Ukrainian MP and Chairman of the Board for the Protection of Human Rights, Vadim Kolesnichenko.

According to the crew members, the pirates had taken away the captain, Veliko Velikov, who comes from Bulgaria’s Varna region, and none of them had seen him since March 6.

The "Asian Glory" was hijacked on January 2, almost 1 000 kms off the coast of Somalia. The last news concerning the ship and her crew was in mid-February, when the vessel weighed anchor and steamed south, only to change course and return a day later to the Somali coast.

"I have heard nothing from my son since January," his mother Stanka Velikova confirmed to local media. "I have no information."

The London head office of the ship’s operator, "Zodiac Maritime Agency" have remained silent, failing to reply to requests for information sent by the Varna newspaper "Narodno delo".

The Zodiac web site states only that the agency continues to closely monitor the situation and remains open to dialogue. It says the company is committed to solving the problem as quickly as possible, and the return of the crew remains the primary goal.

However, the Ukrainian relatives state: "For three months now we continuously receive assurances from the English company Zodiac Maritime Agency that the company is doing everything possible for the return of the crew from the recent capture," say the relatives. "It is known that there is almost no food on board, the crew is starving, the sailors are in constant and extreme stress conditions."

"The pirates take them on deck under threat of being shot, and keep brandishing machineguns at them. The pirates are constantly under the influence of narcotics; if one of them even accidentally pulls the trigger, the worst may happen," the Ukrainians have reported.

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Tags: Bulgaria, Ukraine, Asian Glory, Zodiac Maritime, Varna, Veliko Velikov, somali pirates, hijack, kidnapping, ransom


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