Second Malaysian tanker with five Filipinos hijacked in Gulf of Aden

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Aug 30 2008 06:22 PM | Updated as of Aug 31 2008 02:41 AM

KUALA LUMPUR - A second Malaysian tanker carrying petrochemicals has been hijacked by pirates in the Gulf of Aden, the vessel's owner said in a statement Saturday.

The MT Bunga Melati 5 with 41 crew -- 36 Malaysians, 5 Filipino -- was hijacked on Friday off the coast of Yemen in the notorious Gulf of Aden, which has seen a spike in piracy in recent weeks.

The ship's owner MISC Berhad said in a statement it "regrets to inform that another of its chemical tankers, MT Bunga Melati 5 has, been hijacked by unknown pirates ... on August 29. The incident occurred in international waters off the coast of Yemen."

"MT Bunga Melati 5 was sailing within the vicinity of the designated security corridor. The vessel attempted evasive maneuvering before being overpowered by the hijackers," the statement said.

The tanker was fully laden with 30,000 metric tons of petrochemicals and was heading towards Singapore from Yanbu in Saudi Arabia, the company said.

It said US-led coalition forces nearby were alerted of the attack "but were unable to prevent the hijacking as safety of the crew onboard is of priority."

Noel Choong, head of the Kuala Lumpur-based International Maritime Bureau's (IMB) Piracy Reporting Centre confirmed the attack and called on the United Nations to take action in the pirate-infested waterway.

"We confirm a chemical tanker has been hijacked in the Gulf of Aden near Yemen. We call on the UN and the international community to stop this piracy menace. The international community has the warships to police the waters in the Gulf of Aden," he told AFP.

On August 20, a Malaysian palm oil tanker, the Bunga Melati Dua, with 39 crew on board was seized by pirates off the coast of Somalia.

The ship remains in the hands of the pirates and MISC has reported one death so far -- a Filipino crew member -- who died in an "accident" while the tanker was hijacked.

One day later, three more ships -- German, Iranian and Japanese -- were hijacked off the Somali coast in an unprecedented series of attacks.

Choong said the Bunga Melati 5 was the eighth ship to be hijacked since July 20 in the Gulf of Aden, which lies in the Arabian Sea between Yemen on the south coast of the Arabian Peninsula and the north coast of Somalia.

The waters off Somalia are the most pirate-infested in the world, with the IMB reporting 24 attacks -- 19 of which occurred in the Gulf of Aden -- between April and June this year.