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* Sri Lanka Foreign Ministry taking measures to get MV Talca crew released
Thu, Mar 25, 2010, 11:29 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Mar 25, Colombo: Sri Lanka Foreign Ministry said it had contacted the relevant authorities in Oman, Kenya and Britain to get the Sri Lankan crew of the recently captured cargo vessel 'MV Talca' released as soon as possible.

A statement issued by the Foreign Ministry Thursday said the Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama called for a report from the Sri Lanka Embassy in Oman since the incident took place off the Oman coast.

The Bermuda flagged British Virgin Islands owned cargo ship MV Talca with a crew of 25 was reportedly hijacked at a location approximately 120 nautical miles off the coast of Oman and 180 miles south of Mazera. The crew is mainly Sri Lankans except for one Filipino and one Syrian.

The FM has instructed the Sri Lanka High Commission in Kenya, which has been liaising with the Somali authorities on previous occasions when ships with Sri Lankan crew had been hijacked by Somali pirates, has also been instructed to monitor the situation.

Since the ship is owned by a British company, Bogollagama had directed the Sri Lanka High Commission in London to establish contacts with the British authorities to persuade the shipper to expedite the negotiation process and ensure the safety and wellbeing of the Sri Lankan crew aboard MV Talca.

The Consular Affairs Division of the Foreign Ministry has also contacted the local agent, ALF Shipping (Pvt) Ltd, in order to extend any necessary assistance to the families of the crew members on the hijacked cargo vessel, the Foreign Ministry said.

Meanwhile, negotiations are underway to secure the crew members of the Saudi Arabian vessel 'MV Al Nasr Al Saudi' hijacked by pirates along the Yemeni coast and then moved to the Somalia coast earlier this month. Al Nasr Al Saudi carried 13 Sri Lankan crew members and a Greek captain.

Saudi Arabian shipping company who is in negotiations with the Somalian pirates has been assured that the crew is in good health. The company has handed over the salaries of the crew members for the past two months to the Sri Lankan consulate in Jeddah to be given to the families of the crew.

The Foreign Ministry said it will continue to monitor the situations of the two hijacked ships and take all necessary steps to expedite the release of the Sri Lankan crew members through the Consular Affairs Division of the Ministry and the Missions abroad.

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