Somali pirates free Bulgarian tanker

2010-09-09 18:29

Sofia - Somali pirates have freed a Bulgarian chemical tanker, the Panega, which had been hijacked in May in the Gulf of Aden with 15 Bulgarian crew members on board, Bulgaria's foreign ministry said on Thursday.

"A Bulgaria-flagged ship, the Panega, which was hijacked on May 11 by pirates in the Gulf of Aden, was freed this morning," the ministry said in a statement.

It did not say how the ship was released but said it was currently being towed eastwards and would soon leave Somali territorial waters.

"A representative of Navigation Maritime Bulgare (the ship's owner) confirmed that all 15 crew were in good health and none needed any special medical care," the statement also said.

Bulgaria's Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov had already notified the families of all crew members about their release, thanking them for their patience and strength, it added.

The Panega is so far the only Bulgaria-flagged ship to have fallen prey to pirates.

Thirteen other Bulgarian sailors were among the international crew on board two hijacked British-flagged ships, the Asian Glory and Saint James Park, which were already successively released in May and June.