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December 29, 2009

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Hijacked China vessel rescued by naval fleet

A CHINESE bulk carrier and 25 crew members hijacked by pirates in international waters were rescued by the Chinese navy yesterday.

The high-seas drama unfolded about 3am, according to the Chinese Marine Search and Rescue Center.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said "De Xin Hai," the hijacked vessel, was now under protection of a Chinese naval escort.

After medical checkups of crew members and a resupply of provisions, the fleet would ensure their safe return to China as soon as possible, Jiang said.

"De Xin Hai," which belongs to Qingdao Ocean Shipping Co, was carrying coal from South Africa to India when it was hijacked in the Indian Oceanon October 19, 350 nautical miles northeast of the Seychelles and 700 nautical miles off the east coast of Somalia.

After the hijacking, the Chinese government instructed relevant departments to carry out a rescue mission while ensuring the safety of the ship and crew members.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry again reminded Chinese vessels and personnel to avoid dangerous sea areas.

China's Ministry of Transport also ordered Chinese shipping companies and their vessels and crew to strengthen self-protective measures.

"De Xin Hai" was the first Chinese vessel to be hijacked since China deployed a three-ship squadron to the Gulf of Aden last year, joining Britain, India, Iran, the United States, France and other countries in anti-piracy patrols.

Pirate attacks in the area nearly doubled in 2009 over a year earlier, despite the deployment of the European Union Naval Force.


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