Singaporean missing after pirates hijack vessel

Mr Yeo Eu Loone (left) is missing after the vessel he was on was hijacked. He is seen here with brother Eugene Yeo.
Mr Yeo Eu Loone (left) is missing after the vessel he was on was hijacked. He is seen here with brother Eugene Yeo.PHOTO: EUGENE YEO

A Singaporean man on board an oil tanker is missing after the Kiribati-flagged vessel was hijacked by 10 heavily armed pirates off the coast of Ghana early Saturday morning.

The whereabouts of the 3,232-tonne tanker MT Hai Soon 6 and its 21-man crew are unknown after the vessel disappeared from maritime radars. Besides cargo officer Yeo Eu Loone, 38, there were 12 Chinese, six Myanmar nationals and two Koreans in the crew.

The vessel, which was supplying oil to barges and ships off the coast of West Africa, is owned by Singapore shipping firm Hai Soon International.

It was said to be sailing in the Gulf of Guinea when it was hijacked about 46 nautical miles south of Anloga, Ghana.

Hai Soon executive director Michael Low told The Straits Times yesterday: "We're very concerned about our crew's safety. We want our people back as quickly as possible."

He said all relevant bodies, including the International Maritime Bureau, had been informed.

This is Hai Soon's first encounter with pirates after being in Africa for 12 years, he said.

The attack was the third near the Ghana-Togo border in seven weeks, according to maritime intelligence firm Dryad Maritime chief operating officer Ian Millen. He said: "Refined product cargo theft, perpetrated by Nigerian criminal gangs, continues to be a problem in the Gulf of Guinea region."

Mr Yeo's brother, Eugene, 41, said the family is worried sick. "It has been three days and there has been no news, no updates at all," he said.

Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday it had no comment at this point.

waltsim@sph.com.sg