PUTRAJAYA: About 6,000 tonnes of RON95 fuel worth RM21mil carried by the MT Orkim Harmony is believed to be intact, according to the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA).
MMEA deputy director-general (operations) Maritime Admiral Datuk Ahmad Puzi Ab Kahar said this was confirmed by the oil tanker's owner, called to identify the ship after it was located on Thursday.
Based on the images captured by the P-3C Orion aircraft belonging to the Royal Australian Air Force, the vessel's owner confirmed the position of the fuel level of 6,000 tonnes of petrol, he said at a press conference here.
MT Orkim Harmony was reported missing at 8.57pm on June 11 while sailing from Malacca to Kuantan Port, Pahang.
The ship owned by Magna Meridian Sdn Bhd, was carrying 22 crew comprising 16 Malaysians, five Indonesians and a Myanmar national.
The tanker is suspected to be hijacked by seven to 12 criminals, but more might be involved.
Ahmad Puzi said the hijackers were being identified and their reasons for hijacking.
He said that if their purpose was to sell the fuel or to extort money, the criminals would have immediately transferred the stolen fuel to another ship or a buyer and demanded a ransom, but so far, nothing has happened.
The oil tanker which had been repainted and renamed 'Kim Harmon' was found about 200 nautical miles from Kota Baru, Kelantan.
Negotiations with the criminals, believed to be in possession of light weapons, started at noon Thursday in a “good mood”, and all crew members are believed to be safe.
The negotiation process is expected to take some time and carried out professionally by trained negotiators to ensure that the criminals disarm and surrender unconditionally.
To ensure that the oil tanker is always in control of security forces, Ahmad Puzi said an MMEA vessel, KM Amanah and the ship KD Terengganu, belonging to the Royal Malaysian Navy have been deployed and are 10km from the oil tanker.
To date, 16 ships and four aircraft with 1,200 officers and men have been involved in the search and rescue operation for the oil tanker. - BERNAMA