Pirates have stolen around 700,000 litres of diesel fuel (worth approximately $434,000) from the ‘MT Ai Maru’ oil tanker some 31 nautical miles east of Tanjung Sedili off Johor, Malaysia, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) said on Sunday. The vessel was en route from Singapore to Cambodia.
The hijacking was said to had been carried out by a group of seven pirates who boarded the tanker from a speedboat. The fuel was pumped out in around three hours and a half to another vessel while, as the tanker’s captain claimed, “the crew was locked in a room while he had been ordered to steer the ship by a group armed with machetes and a gun,” Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency’s statement read.
The pirates are believed to had been scared off by Malaysian Navy patrol vessels causing them to flee to nearby islands.
All the crew including the captain are safe, but have been subjected to an investigation by MMEA so as to check their potential involvement in the robbery since such scenarios have been common over the recent period.
According to Nexus Maritime Security this is the sixth hijacking in SE Asia since April.
World Maritime News Staff, June 17, 2014, Image: MMEA