Tuesday 21 May 2019

Oil tanker missing for a week amid piracy fears

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Stock image

Ed McAllister

A tanker vessel has gone missing off the coast of Gabon in West Africa - an area notorious for piracy - and no word has been heard from its crew for a week, the ship's managers said.

Georgia's government said that 17 of its citizens were on board the Pantelena serving as crew.

Communication was lost with the Panama-registered tanker at about 2am local time on August 14, at which time it was about 28km from the port of Libreville, in Gabon, Athens-based Lotus Shipping said in a statement.

It gave no further details on the cargo and crew, and did not say if it believed the Pantelena had been hijacked by pirates.

The vessel is a dual-purpose oil or chemicals tanker.

"We at Lotus Shipping, acting on behalf of the vessel's owners... have set as our first and foremost priority to safeguard the safety of the crew and with their interest in mind we cannot provide any additional media comments at this point in time," it said.

The Pantelena was on route from Lome to Libreville and was last seen nearing the Gabon coast at 9pm on August 13, according to ship-tracking data on Reuters, which lists the ship as a double-hulled oil tanker managed by Lotus.

Piracy has decreased worldwide, but West Africa's Gulf of Guinea is an increasing target for pirates who steal cargo and demand ransoms. (Reuters)

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