Pirates may have attacked boat found adrift

TAIPEI: Pirates or a mutiny probably caused the mysterious disappearance of the crew of a Taiwanese fishing boat found abandoned near Australia with a cargo of rotting tuna and mackerel recently, an industry official said yesterday. 

The High Aim No. 6 was spotted drifting off the coast of north-west Australia on Jan 4, about six weeks after leaving Indonesia with its Taiwanese captain and chief engineer and 10 Indonesian crew members. No lifeboats were found on board, and there were no signs of a struggle. 

Police and international maritime authorities are trying to solve the mystery of the ship, whose Mandarin name is Hai An or “Peaceful Seas.” 

“We believe that there might have been some wrongdoing by the Indonesian crew or that pirates attacked the boat and abducted the fishermen,” said Lee Ah-duey, director of the Liu Chiou District Fishing Association in southern Taiwan. 

Lee said the best clue to their fate was likely to be a record of calls made on Bali, with a mobile phone belonging to the chief engineer, Lin Chung-lee. 

He said phone records showed that 87 local calls were made on Bali with the phone.  

Pirates frequently prey on ships in Indonesian waters. Yesterday, Indonesian police said pirates hijacked a Singaporean tugboat on Saturday and forced its six crewmen to jump overboard, killing one. 

The whereabouts of the boat and hijackers were unknown, said Indonesian police Capt Jasman.  

The Australian navy intercepted the Taiwanese boat four days after it was spotted adrift.  

“The two Taiwanese crewmen called their families every day. The last time they called was on Dec 6,” said Lee, adding that the men reported no trouble. – AP  

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