17 Pinoy seamen in hijacked oil tanker

Manila News Bureau Chief

MANILA – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has confirmed that 17 Filipinos were among the 24 crewmembers of a Greek oil tanker believed to have been hijacked by pirates in the Gulf of Guinea last week.

According to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), the Liberian-flagged Fair Artemis lost contact with its owners while off the coast of Ghana’s capital city of Accra.

A spokesperson for the ship’s owner, Fairdeal Group Management S.A., said the ship remained missing but gave no further details.

“Our primary concern…is for the safety of those on board the vessel,” said Fairdeal fleet director John Gray in a statement. “We would like to assure their families and all stakeholders that we are fully committed to returning the crew and vessel to a safe port.”

The IMB said the Gulf of Guinea is home to one of the world’s most piracy prone areas, with most incidents occurring along or off the coast of Nigeria where gangs hijack vessels mostly to steal cargo.

Pirates, however, have been known to attack ships off the Ivory Coast to the west and south as far as Angola./PN