Somali Pirates Hijack Oil Tanker Heading to US

Crude oil poses threat to security, environment
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 30, 2009 7:29 AM CST
Somali Pirates Hijack Oil Tanker Heading to US
The Spanish trawler Alakrana, released by Somali pirates, is seen at center, escorted by two Spanish frigates in a photo taken Nov. 17, 2009, off Somalia.   (AP Photo/Spanish Defense Ministry, HO)

Somali pirates seized a tanker carrying crude oil in the increasingly dangerous waters off East Africa yesterday, an attack that could pose a huge environmental or security threat to the region. The Greece-flagged Maran Centaurus, a large crude carrier with a capacity of 300,000 tons, was hijacked off the coast of Somalia while en route from Saudi Arabia to the US.

Though pirates have successfully hijacked dozens of vessels the last several years, yesterday's attack appears to be only the second ever on an oil tanker. The hijacking of a tanker increases worries that the vessel could crash, be run aground, or be involved in a firefight, a piracy expert tells the AP. Pirates now hold about a dozen vessels hostage and more than 200 crew members. The Maran Centaurus has 28 crew aboard. (Read more piracy stories.)

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