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China and Iran join hands in 'blitz' rescue of hijacked crew
Sunday, April 08, 2012
The successful blitz rescue of all 28 Chinese crew members aboard a cargo ship hijacked by Somali pirates was attributed to the concerted efforts of the Chinese and Iranian governments, the Chinese ambassador to Iran said here on Friday.
The Chinese embassy in Tehran immediately took actions after receiving reports that Panama-registered cargo ship Xianghuamen with 28 Chinese crew members on board was hijacked on Friday morning by Somali pirates in the Sea of Oman near Iran’s southern port of Chabahar, said Ambassador Yu Hongyang.
The embassy instantly asked the Iranian Foreign Ministry and military for help, while contacting the Nanjing Ocean Shipping company in eastern China, the owner of the cargo ship, to get the name list of the hijacked crew, Yu told Xinhua.
In swift response, Iran’s Navy dispatched warships for rescue and soon located the whereabouts of the hijacked freighter Friday afternoon, he said.
Two Iranian warships followed the freighter which was forced by the pirates to head for Somalia.
Facing the pressure from the Iranian Navy, the nine Somali hijackers surrendered and threw their weapons into the sea, and the ship and all its crew were successfully rescued at around 18:30 local time (1400 GMT), less than 10 hours after it was hijacked, Yu said.
Yu stressed that the Chinese government attaches great importance to the safety of the hijacked crew and had instructed the Chinese Foreign Ministry to do its utmost to rescue them.
The swift rescue of the hijacked crew and ship fully reflected the Chinese government’s concern about the safety of Chinese nationals in its diplomatic policy, Yu said.
The Chinese ambassador also praised the wisdom and bravery shown by the Chinese crew, who sabotaged the freighter’s power system to stop it from heading for Somalia.
The Sea of Oman is connected to the Gulf in the west by the Strait of Hormuz, one of the crucial waterways in the world for shipping crude oil.
The cargo ship, setting off from Shanghai, made a stopover in Singapore to unload some goods and then headed for Imam Khomeini port in southwestern Iran when it was hijacked by nine Somali pirates, who besieged the ship in several speeding boats, carrying AK47s and shooting at the ship ruthlessly.
Later, the hijackers climbed onto the ship by their own ladders and took the Chinese crew hostage.
After the ship’s engine is repaired, it will head for the southern Iranian port of Bandar Abbas.
Ambassador Yu contacted He Feng, captain of the rescued freighter, on Friday night, and will travel to Bandar Abbas to visit the rescued Chinese crew on Saturday on behalf of the Chinese government.
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