VILNIUS - A Lithuanian citizen is aboard a Norwegian tanker Bow Asir which was hijacked by pirates off the coast of Somaliaannounced the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry.
"The Foreign Ministry confirms presence of one Lithuanian citizen there," said director of the ministry's Information and Public Relations Department, Rolandas Kacinskas. He refused to reveal the sailor's identity for security reasons.
In Kacinskas' words, Lithuanian diplomats contact with the Norwegian Foreign Ministry and officials of other countries concerned.
"Our embassy in Oslo is in direct and constant contact with the Norwegian company that owns the hijacked tanker ship," he added.
This is the first case when a Lithuanian citizen is held hostage by Somalia pirates.
The Norwegian-owned cargo vessel Bow Asir, which has a crew of 27 on board, was hijacked on Thursday morning. Registered in the Bahamas, the Bow Asir is a chemicals and oil tanker of about 23,000 tons, according to the website of Norway's DNV, a ship classification company.
The shipowner, Salhus Shipping AS, said it received a security alert from the ship at 9:29 a.m. Lithuanian time on Thursday morning saying it was being chased by two small boats with suspected pirates. Sixteen minutes later, the ship's captain reported that pirates had boarded the vessel.
"We have no reports of any injuries," he said. "We are doing our utmost to ensure the safety of the crew," said managing director Per H. Hansen said in a statement.
Last year, Somalia pirates attacked more than 130 ships in the region, a double number since 2007.