3 of 4 men kidnapped from oil tanker off Africa released

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ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Three of four crew members who were kidnapped by pirates from a Greek-flagged oil tanker off the coast of Togo last month have been released, while the fourth has died, the vessel’s managing company said Friday.

European Products Carriers Ltd. said in a statement that the three — one Greek, one Filipino and one Georgian — were “safe and well,” had undergone medical checks and were speaking to local authorities before returning to their respective homes.

An investigation was being conducted into the death of the fourth crew member, who was from the Philippines, but the company said “it is understood that his demise was not as a result of any actions by those holding the crew hostage but due to illness.”

Pirates attacked the Elka Aristotle on Nov. 4, taking four of the ship’s 24-member crew hostage. The Gulf of Guinea, where the incident occurred, is considered a high-risk area by the International Maritime Bureau.

Greek Merchant Marine Minister Yiannis Plakiotakis welcomed the release of the Greek crewman, cadet engineer Dimitris Giatis, saying he would invite him to the ministry “at the first opportunity” to find out what happened during his roughly 40-day captivity.

Plakiotakis said formal procedures for Giatis’ repatriation were being completed and he would be back in Greece “very soon.”

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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