Somali pirates hijacked a Chinese bulk carrier Monday northeast of the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean , as the marauding sea bandits hunted their prey ever further from base to wrong-foot naval patrols.
According to the European Union's anti-piracy naval mission (EU NAVFOR), the unnamed ship was seized 550 nautical miles (1,000 kilometres) northeast of the Seychelles and 700 nautical miles off the east coast of Somalia.
"On indication of an attack an EU NAVFOR Maritime Patrol Aircraft, operating from the Seychelles was launched to investigate the incident," the EU naval mission said in a statement from its headquarters in Britain.
The ship was not registered with the force's Horn of Africa Maritime Security Centre, the statement added.
EU naval spokesman John Harbour told AFP
Chinese state media said the ship's name was De Xin Hai and was carrying coal. China's Ministry of Transport said relevant government agencies were making efforts to rescue the ship, which was en route from South Africa to India, according to Xinhua news agency.
The EU's anti-piracy naval mission said the ship was being tracked and the crew appeared to be in good condition.
China sent three warships to the region late last year to help guard against such attacks.
The hijacking is believed to be the first time a ship has been seized between the Seychelles and Maldives, in a sign that pirates have expanded the reach of their operations.
The De Xin Hai, owned by the Qingdao Ocean Shipping Company, was transporting coal from South Africa to India, BBC News reports.