09:02 GMT26 February 2020
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    Kiev says crew of Ukrainian ship seized off Somalia unharmed

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    KIEV, November 11 (RIA Novosti) - The health of the crew aboard a Ukrainian cargo ship seized by pirates off the Somali coast more than a month ago is "satisfactory," the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

    "The health condition of the crew members is satisfactory. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has daily contacts with the Ukrainian sailors' family members and informs them of the situation," the ministry's statement said.

    The Faina, carrying tanks and other heavy weaponry, was seized by Somali pirates on September 25. The pirates are also holding hostage 17 Ukrainian nationals, two Russians, and one Lithuanian.

    The Russian captain of the Faina died of a heart attack after the vessel was seized. The pirates holding the ship have reportedly demanded a $5 million ransom, and threatened to kill the hostages if a military operation is launched against them.

    "The representatives of the mediator company are carrying out the talks with pirates on releasing the crew members and the ship," the statement said.

    The Foreign Ministry said that food and drinking water were recently delivered to the ship.

    Pirates are increasingly active in the waters off Somalia, where more than 60 ships have been attacked so far this year resulting in the seizure of around 30 vessels. The East African nation has no effective government and no navy to police its coastline.

    The Russian frigate Neustrashimy (Fearless) joined international patrols in the waters off the Somali coast last month as part of attempts to crack down on the piracy.

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