Ship crew safe, negotiations on with pirates: Krishna

Patna: All Indian nationals on board a ship taken hostage by Somali pirates are safe and negotiation for an early release of the crew is on, foreign minister Krishna told Bihar CM Nitish Kumar on Friday, allaying concerns about the safety of the people from the state.

Krishna said that Kumar Prashant from Bihar and 23 others on the ship belonging to Irano-Hind Shipping Company were safe.

"As per information conveyed by our mission in Tehran, the owners of the ship last spoke to the pirate negotiator on March 2, 2011 and he confirmed that all the crew were safe," Krishna said in his letter dated March 18, copies of which were released to the press today.

Negotiations with the pirates were being handled by a committee headed by the managing director of the Iran-based shipping company, it said.

Nitish Kumar in his letter to Krishna on February 22 had requested the Centre to take all steps for the early release of Prashant and other hostages.

Prashant, a local lad, is among the hostages of MV Sinan that was seized by pirates off the coast of Somalia on February 7 and he along with 23 others are being held hostage by them.

"Abduction of Prashant apart from being a heartrending calamity for his wife and infant child, might demotivate others who might be thinking of merchant navy as a career option," Nitish had said.