Two French couples and a child are being held

Authorities in France have released details about a French yacht seized by pirates 500 miles off the Somali coast. Five people are being held – including a three-year-old child. It is the third yacht to be hijacked this year so far, making it the worst on record.

Yacht Tanit had two couples and a three-year-old boy on board when they were attacked. The boat had set out from Vannes on France’s Atlantic coast in July last year heading for the archipelago of Zanzibar before it was seized.

France’s Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told the press: “We know where they are. Even if I had details, I would not give them because this anti-piracy operation initiated by France now involves several countries.”

The boat was seized mid-ocean, about 500 miles from the Somali coast. One of the sailors captured – Florent Lemacon – had told his father just before the attack that they had lost the use of the engine. They said that they knew the risks and had taken what they considered to be the least dangerous route through the northern Indian Ocean. Unfortunately for them the pirates seem now to have turned their attention southward, just where they were sailing.

“The danger is there and has indeed become greater over the past months, but the ocean is vast. The pirates must not be allowed to destroy our dream,” they wrote in a blog.

The French navy had strongly advised Tanit’s crew against travelling to Kenya. An email message was sent to Tanit on March 27 stating that sailing to Kenya was ‘very dangerous’ due to a spike in the number of pirate attacks.