They were released in an inflatable boat without navigational equipment.
Within an hour, contact was lost with the boat’s radio beacon, the defence source said.
“It seems that they all died,” the unnamed source was quoted as saying by Russia’s Interfax news agency.
Russia initially said the 10 pirates would be taken to Moscow to face criminal charges over the hijacking, but they were released instead because there were not sufficient legal grounds to detain them, the defence ministry in Moscow said.
Western officials were very surprised when the Russian authorities dropped plans to put the pirates on trial in Moscow, the BBC’s Richard Galpin reports from Moscow.
Now there is even more surprise the pirates were set adrift in the Indian Ocean to make their own way home, he adds.
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