SOFIA, April 6 (Xinhua) -- There were 16 Bulgarian sailors on board the British-owned cargo ship seized by Somali pirates on Monday morning, local BTA reported, citing Executive Director of the Maritime Administration Executive Agency Nikolai Apostolov.
Apostolov said that he received the information from company operator of the seized boat, adding that there is no information about the exact condition of the sailors.
Apostolov stressed that the hijacked sailors' names were still being checked.
The 32,000-tonne Malaspina Castle, which flies a Panamanian flag, was taken on Monday morning in the Gulf of Aden, according to reports. It was the fifth ship snatched in two days off the Somali coast despite naval patrols along main shipping lanes.
The vessel has a crew of 24, from Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria and the Philippines. All are believed to be in good health condition.
Somalia's pirates had been having a quiet year after their bumper haul in 2008, when they took almost 50 vessels.
Pirates are currently holding at least 15 vessels with some 250crew members.