Somalia pirates have hijacked a Hong Kong cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden near the coast of Yemen, a regional maritime official confirmed on Wednesday.
The vessel Delight, loaded with 26,000 tons of wheat, was bound for Iran's Bandar Abbas Port when it was hijacked.
The fate of the crew or its cargo was not known, said Andrew Mwangura, an official with the East Africa's Seafarers Assistance Program.
He also noted that the ship was flying a Hong Kong flag but operated by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines.
"The vessel has about 23-25 crew members but I have not established their nationalities or where the vessel was sailing from," Mwangura told Xinhua by telephone.
Mwangura said he believed the ship is now likely sailing toward an anchorage site off the Somali coast.
More than 80 ships are estimated to have been attacked in the African waters so far this year, with about a dozen ships believed to be in the hands of pirates along with some 200 crew members.
Each year about 20,000 vessels pass through the Gulf of Aden, which links Indian Ocean with Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea.
Escalating pirate hijackings have activated involvement of multi-coalition naval force to patrol the world's most dangerous waters.
In recent months, multinational task force based in Djibouti has been patrolling parts of Gulf of Aden and Red Sea, where pirating is rife.
(Xinhua News Agency November 19, 2008)