A Greek oil supertanker has been hijacked off the coast of Oman carrying crude oil worth $200 million (£125 million, €146 million), the operator of the vessel said.
Athens based operator Enesel said contact with the vessel Irene SL has been lost. Pirate gangs of Somalia are known to operate there although it is hundreds of miles away from the impoverished country.
The tanker was on its way from the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Mexico when the incident took place.
“This morning the vessel was attacked by armed men”, reported Reuters quoting Enesel. “For the moment there is no communication with the vessel”, the company added.
The Merchant Marine Ministry of Greece confirmed that the cargo was carrying 266,000 tons of crude. It has a 25 member crew on-board including 17 Filipinos, 7 Greek and one Georgian, according to ministry sources.
EUNAVFOR – the naval mission of the EU in the region reported that the tanker was sailing 400 miles south east of Muscat.
Pirates had struck just yesterday and hijacked an Italian tanker in the Indian Ocean, some 800 miles from the Somalia coast.
According to estimates released by EUNAVFOR, some 681 victims are held hostage in 29 vessels.
Somalia has been a lawless country without a central government since 1991 and piracy has flourished as a lucrative business there. Pirates belonging to the country have made millions of dollars by targeting cargo vessels around the horn of Africa in recent years.