TUVALU SEEKS HELP FOR SAILORS HELD BY PIRATES

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12 Tuvaluans among those held for $15 million ransom

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, May 15, 2009) – Tuvalu’s Transport Minister is seeking the support of other countries in the Pacific to put pressure on the Government of Somalia to release twelve Tuvaluan sailors being held hostage by pirates.

Taukelina Finikaso has told Pacific Maritime Ministers meeting in Niue that the seafarers from Tuvalu had been held prisoners for over a month now.

He says the pirates have demanded 15 million US dollars from the owners of the 20,000 tonne container vessel, Hansa Stavanger.

The Pacnews agency reports the Tuvalu men are among 24 foreign hostages, including five Germans, three Russians, two Ukranians and two Filipinos.

Mr Finikaso says the ransom is beyond the resources of the Tuvalu Government so it is appealing to the region to exert pressure on the Government of Somalia to negotiate with the pirates for the release of the seamen.

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