Captain 'tried to escape pirates'

Other News Materials 10 April 2009 17:23 (UTC +04:00)

The US captain taken hostage by Somali pirates managed to jump off their lifeboat overnight but was recaptured, according to US media reports.

The escape attempt by Capt Richard Phillips was witnessed by a US navy ship nearby but happened too fast for it to come to his aid, NBC News says.

He was captured after a struggle on his ship, Maersk Alabama. Pirates seized the ship but the crew fought them off, BBC reported.

The US navy is bolstering its forces in the area to combat the pirate captors.

There are thought to be four pirates with Capt Phillips in the lifeboat, which has reportedly run out of fuel, and it is not yet clear what they are demanding.

The Maersk Alabama is reportedly sailing for the Kenyan port of Mombasa under armed guard.

Gen David Petraeus, head of US Central Command, said reinforcements would arrive within 48 hours, adding that a warship was already very close to the lifeboat.

But other hijacked ships with hostages aboard are also reported to be nearing the area to support the pirates on the lifeboat.