Somali pirates release tanker after receiving millions of dollars in ransom

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A record ransom payment has secured the release of the Maran Centaurus, a massive oil tanker, seized in November by Somali pirates. The Maran Centaurus was the second-largest vessel ever captured and was carrying an estimated two million barrels of oil.

The pirates claim they received US$5.5 million for the ship's freedom, but a separate figure places the amount dropped on the ship at $7 million. Both are believed to exceed any previous figure paid to the Somali sea pirates.

The vessel was released after the money was dropped aboard the ship from an helicopter. Andrew Mwangura of the East African seafarers assistance programme said that the Centaurus was freed earlier today, commenting that "[s]he's free. She's preparing to sail out." There was reportedly a dispute over the ransom among the pirates, which delayed the release of the ship.

"We have agreed to solve our disagreements and release the ship. It is free and sailing away now," said one of the pirates, who goes by the name of Hassan.