Thursday, April 15

Pirates rob oil tanker in Bintulu waters

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BINTULU: An oil tanker travelling from Singapore to Labuan was robbed of 100,000 metric tonnes of petroleum by a crew of six pirates last Saturday.

A Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) spokesman said the incident unfolded around 11.30pm, when the MT Budi Mesra Dua was 78 nautical miles off the Tanjung Batu Bintulu coast.

The pirates, who approached the tanker on a boat, were armed with machetes and knives.

They tied up all 22 tanker crew members and then transferred the petroleum using a pump to a waiting 60-metre long barge.

The pumping process was completed around 6.30am on Sunday. The spokesman, who is the investigating officer, said the pirates only left the tanker around 9.40am, three hours after the barge had departed.

“Luckily, no crew members were injured during the robbery. Now the crew members are in Labuan to assist with the investigation,” he told The Borneo Post yesterday, adding they are looking at various aspects of the incident.

He said the tanker’s captain later reported the incident to Belchem Singapore Pte Ltd in Singapore.

A police report was then made by a representative of the company at Labuan police station, which then informed the Bintulu police headquarters and MMEA Bintulu.

The oil tanker is now docked at Labuan Port and the case is being investigated under Section 391 of the Penal Code for gang robbery, which provides for 20 years in jail and whipping.

“Currently I am still in Labuan. We are still investigating and also hunting down the culprits. Other information I can’t disclose at the moment,” said the spokesman.

He added that MMEA has stepped up surveillance around Bintulu waters in collaboration with the police and other authorities.

The MT Budi Mesra Dua is a 7,000 DWT (deadweight tonnage) product tanker registered in Port Kelang.