Madagascar seizes Tanzanian ship
27 February 2014, 13:23
Antananarivo - Madagascar authorities have seized a stricken Tanzanian vessel laden with thousands of logs of the rare and precious red ruby coloured rosewood, police said on Wednesday.
The vessel carrying 2 135 logs of the prized wood was found stranded on a beach of the island nation where logging has been restricted and export is now banned to save the endangered tree.
"It was a Tanzanian ship that had developed a technical problem," the director of police security and intelligence Colonel Anthony Rakotoarison told AFP.
He suspected the rosewood logs had been intended for Tanzania in transit to another final destination.
The 13 crew members, all Tanzanians, were arrested on Monday.
The wood - used to carve, among other items, vases and guitar boxes - is being smuggled out of the country at alarming rates.
The illicit trade in the wood which is prized for its unique coloured streaks exploded after a 2009 coup.
Madagascar's new President Hery Rajaonarimampianina has vowed to end the plundering of the country's resources.