The owners of a seized Vietnamese cargo vessel estimated Sunday that pirates will demand US$5 million for the release of the ship and its crew.
Last week, the Hoang Son Sun and 24 Vietnamese seamen were captured by Somali pirates.
The estimated ransom does not include brokerage fees, Hoang Son, vice director of Hoang Son Co. Ltd., said after a meeting with a British company which specializes in maritime hostage negotiation.
Son said the ship was insured against hijackers by the Vietnam Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development in cases, but the policy does not cover people and cargo.
The Hoang Son Sun was carrying 21,000 tons of iron ore when it was attacked about 520 nautical miles South-East of Muscat, Oman on January 17.
"If pirates ask for such huge ransom, there's no way the company can afford it," Son said. "We need the support of the state and our insurer."
That same day, the Hai Phong shipping firm announced that they had recieved a fax from the ship's captian assuring them of the crew's safety.
On January 18 the crew had sent a fax, informing the owners of the attack and asking for help, the company said.
They believe that the faxes were sent when the pirates were off-guard. The company was yet to contact the crew directly.
In the meantime, Nguyen Duy Thien, the Vietnamese ambassador to Tanzania and its neighboring countries, said he is working with the Somali embassy in Tanzania to secure the government's cooperation in recovering the ship.
Nguyen Manh Dung, the Vietnamese ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg and the European Union, said he has also contacted European marine security agencies for help in acquiring more information and tracking the ship.
In an email sent Sunday, Paddy O'Kennedy, representative of the European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR), said that, so far, they haven't received any further information about the Hoang Son Sun.