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Arctic Sea crew reach Cape Verde island, set to fly to Russia


MOSCOW, August 19 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian crew of the Arctic Sea cargo ship were transferred on Wednesday from a Russian Navy frigate to a Cape Verde island from where they will fly on to Russia, local media reported.

They were brought to Sal aboard the Ladny frigate at 16:00 Moscow time (noon GMT).

Alexander Karpushin, the Russian ambassador to Cape Verde, speaking on national radio, said Moscow had asked the local authorities to "provide the best possible conditions for our crew's transfer to the airport."

The Arctic Sea had been missing for more than two weeks when it was found by the Ladny on Monday.

Russia's defense minister said on Tuesday that the vessel had been freed without a single shot being fired, and eight suspected hijackers had been detained.

Russia's Defense Ministry confirmed on Wednesday that the hijackers had demanded a ransom to release the ship. Finnish police have said the hijackers wanted $1.5 million.

The vessel was located 300 nautical miles (555 kilometers) off Cape Verde. In addition to the 15-person crew, there were eight unidentified people on board.

Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said a speed boat carrying four Estonians, two Latvians and two Russians approached the Arctic Sea in the Swedish territorial waters on July 24.

The Maltese-flagged cargo ship left Finland with a cargo of timber on July 22 en route for Algeria. The ship last made radio contact with British coastguards on July 28.


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