Pirates hijacked a record number of ships and crew in 2010, most of them off Somalia, the International Maritime Bureau reported.
A total of 53 vessels were captured, with 1,181 crew members taken hostage and eight killed, the London-based unit of the International Chamber of Commerce said in an e-mailed report. That’s up from 188 people seized in 2006, the IMB said.
“These figures for the number of hostages and vessels taken are the highest we have ever seen,” Captain Pottengal Mukundan, director of the IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre, which has monitored piracy since 1991, said in the report. “The continued increase in these numbers is alarming.”
Ransoms paid to Somali pirates averaged $5.4 million last year, compared with $150,000 in 2005, according to One Earth Future, a non-governmental organization based in Louisville, Colorado. A total of $238 million was paid out in 2010, the group said in a report, estimating the annual cost of piracy at $7 billion to $12 billion. That includes ransoms, insurance premiums, re-routing ships, security equipment and naval forces.
Somali pirates still held 28 ships and 638 hostages as of Dec. 31, the IMB said. Pirate attacks also took place in Nigeria and Bangladesh and Indonesia reported its highest level of attacks on ships since 2007, the IMB said.