KUALA LUMPUR: The Government will deploy its resources to locate a missing oil tanker off Johor, said Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
"I am distressed by the news of a missing Malaysian-owned tanker. I pray for the safety of the 22-strong crew, 16 of whom are Malaysians.
"My thoughts are with their families. The government will deploy our resources to locate it," the Prime Minister said in his latest posts on his Twitter and Facebook, Sunday.
The Malaysian-registered vessel MT Orkim Harmony carrying 6,000 metric tonnes of RON95 petrol went missing in the South China Sea near Johor on Thursday (June 11).
A search has been extended to waters off neighbouring countries.
Earlier, the Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) said in a statement that Orkim Harmony was sailing from Malacca to Kuantan when it disappeared.
"The last known location for the tanker was about 30 nautical miles of Tanjung Sedili east when it suddenly lost contact at around 8.50pm,'' said MMEA operations director southern region Maritime First Admiral Ibrahim Mohamed.
Ibrahim said on board the Malaysian-registered tanker were 22 crew from three countries - 16 Malaysians, five from Indonesia and a Myanmar national.
He said MMEA received a report from the shipping company Orkim Ship Management Sdn Bhd on the missing tanker at about 6.30am on June 12.
"We immediately deployed our assets upon receiving the report from the company," said Ibrahim.
The search involved two ships and a boat from the agency with assistance from the Navy's KD Laksamana Tan Pusmah and KD Ganyang.
Ibrahim said the search area now covers 20,000 sq km from Tanjung Penawar in Kota Tinggi to Mersing and also the sea areas of Singapore and Indonesia.
He said MMEA had also forwarded a missing vessel report to Singapore's Coast Guard and the Indonesian authorities, Badan SAR Nasional and Badan Keamanan Laut Republik Indonesia.
On June 4, the Orkim Victory, an oil tanker with the same company was attacked by eight men armed with two hand guns and a parang, who locked up the crew members in a cabin, said a Singapore-based anti-piracy watchdog.
The perpetrators towed the ship to 12.2 nautical miles off Pulau Aur where they spent seven hours pumping 770 metric tonnes of Automatic Diesel Oil into another tanker.
“The perpetrators left Orkim Victory at approximately 10.4 nm south-southwest of Pulau Aur after damaging all communication equipment, and robbing the crew’s personal belongings,” said the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP).
News portal The Maritime Executive reported that Orkim Victory managed to find “its way back to a nearby port” and all its crew were safe.
The ReCAAP added that the number of piracy incidents in the Straits of Malacca has doubled in the first three months of 2015.