Pirates Release Three Kidnapped Tanker Crewmembers
European Products Carriers, the manager of the Greek-flagged oil tanker Elka Aristotle, announced Monday that the pirates who attacked the vessel off Togo on November 4 have released three kidnapped crewmembers. The freed hostages have successfully returned to their countries of origin - the Philippines, Georgia and Greece - and reunited with their families.
Unfortunately, European Product Carriers confirmed that the fourth crewmember who was kidnapped in the attack, a Filipino national, died in captivity. A full investigation is under way, but the company says that it understands that the fourth crewmember died due to illness, not due to any actions taken by those holding the crew hostage. The victim's next of kin in the Philippines have been informed of the loss.
The company extended its thanks to the Greek minister of maritime affairs, Ioannis Plakiotakis, for his contribution towards the successful resolution of the crisis. The firm also thanked Greek ambassador to Nigeria Ioannis Plotas for his efforts on behalf of the crew.
At about 0300 hours on the morning of November 4, armed pirates attacked the tanker Elka Aristotle at a position about 10 nm off the port of Lome. According to Reuters, the Elka Aristotle had at least one guard on board, but the attempt to fend off the attackers was not successful. One guard was shot and wounded in the exchange, and the pirates proceeded to abduct four out of the 24 seafarers on board.
The rest of the crew and the vessel herself were unharmed. As of December 15, the Elka Aristotle was under way in the Bay of Biscay, bound for the ARA port region.
The kidnapping aboard the Elka Aristotle was the second in three days in the Gulf of Guinea. On November 2, nine seafarers were abducted from the Norwegian-flagged freighter Bonita off the coast of Togo's eastern neighbor, Benin.
In October, the IMB reported that the Gulf of Guinea region accounts for more than 85 percent of seafarers taken hostage and more than 80 percent of all crew kidnappings worldwide.