Stowaways threaten crew on cargo ship off UK coast

LONDON (Reuters) – Crew members on an Italian cargo ship were threatened by stowaways close to the coast of southeast England on Friday and police said they were dealing with a “complex situation” on the vessel.

Four stowaways threatened crew on the cargo ship, a spokesman for the boat’s operator, Grimaldi Lines, said.

Police said they did not think the incident in the Thames Estuary was piracy or terrorism related.

“We have received no reports that anyone has been harmed and don’t believe they are at risk. We are not currently treating this as either a hostage, piracy or terror related incident,” Essex Police said.

Police said they first attended the incident at 0900 GMT on Friday and were still trying to resolve the situation.

A BBC radio reporter said the boat was sailing in circles off the coast near the town of Margate.

Sky News said the stowaways were believed to have they boarded the ship in Nigeria and had demanded to be taken to the English coast, threatening the crew with iron bars.

Reporting by William Schomberg, Guy Faulconbridge and Maria Ponnezhath; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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