Captive Algerian sailors' health critical

2011-09-07 20:03

Algiers - Several Algerian sailors held hostage by Somali pirates since their capture in January are critically ill, with no food or water, their families said Wednesday after speaking to the captives.

The 17 seamen were among the 27 crew of an Algerian-flagged bulk carrier seized on January 1 off the coast of Oman, with most of the others from Ukraine.

"The health of several hostages is critical and their morale is at an all-time low," said Fawzi Ait Ramdane, who managed to speak to his father on the telephone on Wednesday.

He said that during Ramadan the hostages received just a piece of bread every five days.

The sailors criticised the behaviour of the Jordanian charter company of their boat the "MV Blida" and asked when the Algerian government "will get us out of this hell", their families said.

Ouardia Hannouche, the wife of one of the sailors, said her husband reported having no food or water.

Several regions of Somalia have been hit by famine sparked by the drought affecting the Horn of Africa.

The captives' relatives gathered on Wednesday in front of the Algerian state television headquarters in Algiers to "condemn the media silence" on the plight of the captives, said Ait Ramdane.

The "MV Blida" belonged to the company International Bulk Carriers (IBC), an Algerian-Saudi operated subsidiary of the CNAN Group, which specialises in maritime cargo transport.

Somali pirates are currently holding 52 boats and 573 sailors hostage according to the Ecoterra group.

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