All 20 crew members were said to be in good health, according to the Foreign Ministry in Seoul.
The 4,374-ton oil tanker was in waters 309 nautical miles south of the Ivory Coast when it went radio silent around 3 p.m. on April 10. The crew consists of a Korean chief engineer, one Chinese national, one Singaporean, two Indonesian and 15 Myanmar nationals.
Having experienced similar instances when oil tankers went silent while under attack by pirates, the Foreign Ministry in Seoul put together a special response team within the ministry, also communicating with the governments and authorities of Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Singapore.
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The suspicion was proven true when the oil tanker was able to communicate on Saturday at around 10:30 a.m. All crew members were safe, it said, but the pirates had stolen all the ship’s cargo.
There were estimated to have been at least a dozen pirates, according to the Foreign Ministry.
The vessel pulled into a port in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, around 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
This is not the first time that an oil tanker carrying a Korean crew member has been held hostage by a group of pirates in the sea south of the Ivory Coast.
In November last year, a Singaporean oil tanker carrying 19 crew members, including two Koreans, was attacked by a group of pirates in the sea south of the Ivory Coast. It was held for about a day while the oil it was carrying was stolen.
“Usually, these pirate groups are multinational, and we are continuing our cooperation with the authorities and governments of the region to respond to similar cases,” a Foreign Ministry official said in a recent meeting with a group of reporters.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the threat of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea region has cost it over $1.9 billion in financial losses annually in recent years.
Source: Korea JoongAng Daily