A Vietnamese oil tanker missing for a week has been released by pirates who stormed the ship and siphoned off some of its cargo of gas oil, a crew member said Thursday.
The deputy captain of the Sunrise 689, Pham Van Hoang, said a group of more than 10 men, who he thought were Indonesian, armed with guns and knives in two speedboats boarded the tanker shortly after it left Singapore for Vietnam on Oct. 2.
He said the pirates destroyed the communication and navigation systems, and put all 18 Vietnamese crew members into a room. The pirates then siphoned off some of the gas oil into their vessels.
“They put knives on our throats and threatened to kill us if we resist,” Hoang said by cellphone from the tanker. One crew member broke his leg when he fell trying to flee from the pirates.
Hoang said the crew was freed early Thursday and the tanker is about 150 kilometers (90 miles) off Vietnam’s southern tip.
He said the crew had to stop a fishing boat to find out its location. The Vietnam Coast Guard is dispatching a vessel to escort the tanker to shore, he added.
The tanker which was transporting more than 5,000 tons of gas oil from Singapore should have arrived at a port in the central province of Quang Tri on Wednesday.
The Sunrise was the 12th such piracy case since April in Southeast Asia, where tankers have been hijacked, and then released after the cargoes are stolen, according to the International Maritime Bureau based in Kuala Lumpur.