Asia

Vietnamese tanker crew freed by pirates

File photo: Ships anchored off Singapore's coastline Image copyright AFP
Image caption Ships from across the region use the Malacca Straits, which lie between western Malaysia and Indonesia

A Vietnamese oil tanker which went missing last week was seized by pirates who stole some of its cargo before releasing its crew, say officials.

The MT Sunrise 689, heading to Vietnam's Quang Tri port, disappeared shortly after leaving Singapore.

The crew said about a dozen men armed with guns and knives had boarded the ship and beaten them.

They siphoned off the oil before leaving the ship and freeing the crew on Thursday morning.

"The pirates broke the communication system, robbed the oil and goods on board," Nguyen Nhat, director of Vietnam's Maritime Department, told AFP news agency.

He said the pirates had taken about a third of the cargo.

'Knives to our throats'

Ship captain Nguyen Quyet Thang told Vietnam's Tuoi Tre newspaper that the hijackers had pulled alongside the Sunrise in a high-speed boat and two fishing boats about two hours after they left Singapore on 2 October.

The pirates then boarded the ship and took control of the crew.

Some crew members were assaulted when they tried to resist them, he said. One had a broken toe and injured kneecap, while another had an injured ankle.

Crew members were given only a meal per day, he added.

The ship's deputy captain Pham Van Hoang said he believed the pirates were Indonesian.

"They put knives on our throats and threatened to kill us if we resist," he told the Associated Press by phone from the ship.

The MT Sunrise 689, now expected to arrive in Vietnam on Thursday evening, is the 12th tanker to be hijacked in South East Asia since April this year.

The International Maritime Bureau says there has been a steady rise in piracy across southeast Asia, particularly in the busy Malacca Strait between Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia, despite regional efforts to tackle the problem.

Globally, piracy is estimated to cost the shipping industry as a much as $8bn (£5bn) a year.

Related Topics

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites