Somali pirates said on Tuesday they had seized a yacht in the Indian Ocean with a British couple aboard and were taking the vessel to the Horn of Africa nation.
"The British couple are in our hands now. We captured them as they were touring in the Indian Ocean," a pirate called Hassan told Reuters. He said the two captives were healthy and ransom demands would follow.
The Seychelles coastguard said it dispatched aircraft to search for the yacht after receiving a distress signal on Friday and now foreign naval ships and planes fighting piracy in the Indian Ocean had joined the search.
"We have not traced the yacht yet," Lieutenant Colonel Michael Rosette, who is in charge of the Seychelles coastguard, told a news conference. "The yacht had only two passengers on board when it left the Seychelles," Reuters informs.
Paul Chandler, 58, and his wife Rachel, 55, were heading from the Seychelles towards Tanzania in their 38-foot (11.6-metre) yacht the Lynn Rival when their emergency beacon went off on Friday.
Ransom-hunting pirates operating out of lawless Somalia have recently been carrying out attacks well outside Somali waters in the Indian Ocean. The British foreign ministry said it was "investigating urgently", AFP reports.
Messages on the couple’s blog suggested that they believed the threats from pirates in the area had subsided.
They wrote: “The seas around the Seychelles are now too rough for the pirates to operate in."
However, other yachting enthusiasts expressed their alarm that the couple had decided to sail through the waters, where Somali pirates have hijacked a series of cargo ships in recent months.
One member on the Yachting and Boating World forum wrote: “I hope the people in question are well. However, I do wonder why anyone would sail through these areas. The dangers are very well known and very well reported.”
In March, British sailor Malcolm Robertson, 64, was killed and his wife held hostage after pirates boarded their yacht off Thailand, according to Telegraph.co.uk.
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