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S Korean Navy pursuing hijacked tanker off Somalia
Seoul, APR 5 (Agencies):
Published on 6 Apr. 2010 1:05 AM IST
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A South Korean Navy destroyer is pursuing a South Korean-owned oil supertanker believed to have been hijacked by pirates off Somalia’s coast, officials said. The warship had been in the Gulf of Aden on anti-piracy operations and was ordered to move toward the tanker’s expected location in Somali waters, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said late Sunday.
The Navy received a call from the Samho Dream supertanker saying three pirates had boarded early Sunday, and then there was no more contact, a ministry official said. She spoke on condition of anonymity in line with ministry policy.
The vessel owner said on Monday it had lost contact with the ship. “We currently cannot reach the Samho Dream’s captain,” Cho Yong-woo of Busan, South Korea-based Samho Shipping, said.
The Samho Dream had no security detail because Somali pirates were believed to be inactive in the area where the tanker was seized, Cho said. The 300,000-ton-class Samho Dream was about 930 miles (1,500 kilometres) southeast of the Gulf of Aden at the time of the apparent hijacking, according to the Foreign Ministry. It had no new information to provide on Monday. The tanker was sailing from Iraq to the US state of Louisiana with 24 sailors — 5 South Koreans and 19 Filipinos — on board, the ministry said. Valero Energy Corp, an oil and gas refining company based in San Antonio, Texas, said it owns the cargo on board the tanker, but could not confirm the hijacking.
“We’ve had reports to that effect, but there’s been no official confirmation,” said Bill Day, a spokesman for Valero. But, he added, “Everything points to that.”
Somalia, which has had no functioning government since 1991, is the world’s top piracy hot spot. Piracy has emerged as a lucrative racket that brings in millions of dollars in ransoms.
The country is located along the Gulf of Aden, which connects the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean and is one of the world’s busiest waterways with some 20,000 ships passing through each year.

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