DUBAI // The pirates who hijacked the Dubai ship MV Albedo have extended the deadline for the crew’s US$2.85 million (Dh10.4m) ransom by another three days.
Relatives of the 22 crew members, who have been held for 17 months, had hoped to defer the payment until next month. But the Somali raiders have demanded the ransom by tomorrow.
“They extended the first April 20 deadline to April 23 and now have asked for the money to be dropped off on April 26,” said Ahmed Chinoy, the chairman of the Citizens-Police Liaison Committee in Pakistan, which is mediating on behalf of the hostages’ relatives.
“Frankly, we don’t have that money with us yet. We are still in the process of collecting funds.”
There is a shortfall of 150 million Pakistani rupees (Dh6m) in the amount the pirates have demanded for “expenses” including medicine and food.
The money has been raised by the citizen’s group, charity organisations, relatives, the Malaysian ship owner and contributions from the public on the website savemvalbedo.com.
Dozens of the hostages’ relatives are campaigning for funds this week in Karachi.
“It’s a lot of money and we are very scared,” said Shahnaz Jawaid, wife of the ship’s captain Jawaid Khan.
Their daughter Nareman works in Dubai where has been trying to raise funds to have the men freed.
“Every minute of every day we are trying to raise the funds,” Mrs Jawaid said. “Our only hope is that this nightmare should end and our men should be back safely.”
Mr Chinoy said he had spoken to Mr Khan and the first officer who told him the sailors were safe, but supplies were dwindling.
“They said everything, supplies and provisions, are running out. I tried to console them that we are doing our utmost. They asked me to make the payment in time and not ask for any further extensions.”
The cargo ship was hijacked in November 2010 after it left Jebel Ali for Kenya. An Indian sailor later died because of a lack of medicine.
The crew consists of Pakistanis, Sri Lankans, Bangladeshis, Indians and one Iranian.