Tourist dive boat captured by pirates

A tourist dive boat has been captured by Somali pirates near the Seychelles islands.

The Indian Ocean Explorer had just dropped off a group of customers who had booked the trip on board through UK dive specialist Aquatours.

Aquatours director Kirk Green said the operator was informed of the hijacking on Wednesday when it was thought to have been captured although the US Navy claims it was taken either last Friday or Saturday.

It is believed the ship and its seven crew members are now being taken to the pirate stronghold of Harardhere in Somalia where it can expect to be held for up to three months before a ransom is agreed and paid.

Green said: “It’s the first time it’s happened to us so it’s a bit of a shock at the moment.

“Obviously one of the feelings we have is relief because none of our clients were taken. But on the other hand we are extremely concerned about our crew.”

The seven-bedroom boat accommodates up to 14 customers and runs between three and 15-day itineraries in the Indian Ocean.

The seas off the Horn of Africa are becoming infamous for high levels of piracy with up to $80 million of ransom collected in the past year following the seizure of 42 vessels.

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