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Subject: dumb and dumber
gf0012-aust    9/9/2010 6:04:57 PM
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gf0012-aust       9/9/2010 6:05:44 PM

Pirates told hidden crew 'was on holiday'

Posted 49 minutes ago

US Marines have rescued a German-owned ship seized by pirates in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia after hijackers vainly sought the crew which hid in a secret compartment.

A spokesman for the shipping firm says the pirates spent nearly 20 hours searching for the crew and even phoned the shipping company, Quadrant, in Germany to ask where they were hidden.

The US military says Marines boarded and seized control of the Antigua-Barbuda flagged vessel M/V Magellan Star from the pirates in a pre-dawn raid on Thursday (local time).

No one was hurt in the operation, in which the Magellan Star's crew was freed and nine pirates arrested.

Quadrant spokesman Juergen Salamon says the hijack attempt began after the pirates boarded the 8,000-tonne container ship early on Wednesday.

"The crew had closed down the engines and locked themselves away in a safe room which the pirates were unable to find," he said.

Mr Salamon says after searching the ship for three hours the pirates picked up the phone and called the company, asking about the crew's whereabouts.

"They were told the crew was on holiday," he said.

"They then asked how to switch the engines back on, but were told they were broken."

The 11-man crew, comprising two Russians, two Poles, and seven Filipinos, spent the time hidden away in a small, cramped safe room whose entrance was not immediately obvious, the spokesman said.

The rescue operation was launched from the USS Dubuque after a Turkish frigate - part of a multinational force - responded to a distress signal from the Magellan Star, which was sailing from Bilbao in Spain to Singapore.

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