An MSC Cruises ship was attacked by pirates 600 miles off the coast of Somalia on Saturday despite altering its course.
MSC Melody was on a 22-day cruise from Durban to Genoa when it came under attack at 7.35pm local time. The ship, which was carrying 994 passengers and around 500 crew, received minor damage from gunfire from the six pirates, although no one on board was injured.
The ship was sailing further from the coast than normal, adding an extra 400 miles to its route and requiring the cancellation of a planned stop in the Egyptian port of Safaga. MSC took action to protect passengers after Somali pirates attacked a US cargo ship earlier this month.
An MSC Cruises spokeswoman confirmed Israeli security guards on board the ship expelled the pirates, although she refused to confirm reports that this had been achieved by firing pistols in the air and spraying them with a firehose.
Speaking yesterday to Italian TV station Sky TG24, the ship's captain commander Ciro Pinto said: "[The pirates] started firing like crazy at the ship.
"They tried to put up a ladder with hooks. They were climbing up, so we reacted. We started firing.
"When they saw us firing - we even sprayed them with water with the firehose - they gave up and went off.
"The passengers meanwhile were inside the cabins. There are no injuries. Only two people with scrapes."
MSC Cruises owner Gianluigi Aponte added: "Even in such a critical situation, land and onboard staff showed great professionalism and extreme clarity, allowing the ship to continue on its itinerary without additional problems and consequences for passengers and the crew."
MSC Cruises had warned earlier this month that it had altered MSC Melody's route in a bid to avoid the pirates.
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