Pirate hostages held 2x as long as in 2009

2010-11-18 14:58

Nairobi - An expert says Somali pirates are holding hijacked ships and crew almost twice as long as they did 18 months ago.

Cyrus Mody of the International Maritime Bureau says ships and crew hijacked in the first quarter of 2009 were held 55 days on average, while ships and crew taken in 2010 have been held more than 100 days on average.

The trend has led to a backlog of hostages in Somalia - 508 crew from 22 vessels.

Paul and Rachel Chandler appear to have been the longest-held. The British couple were released Sunday after 388 days.

Pirates appear to be holding on to hostages longer for higher ransom paydays. Pirate expert Roger Middleton says reports of recent $9.5m and $7m ransoms appear to be credible.