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Vietnamese oil tanker believed taken by pirates

It carried a cargo of oil, and 18 crewmembers.

By Ed Adamczyk

SINGAPORE, Oct. 8 (UPI) -- A missing Vietnamese oil tanker, last seen as it left Singapore, may have fallen victim to pirates, authorities say.

The 330-feet long Sunrise 689 was carrying 5,200 tons of oil and a crew of 18 when it left Singapore on Oct. 2, on its way to Quang Tri province, Vietnam. Forty minutes into its journey it was reported missing, and the ship owner said contact with it was lost within an hour of its departure.

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"There is no official conclusion yet, but the possibilities of technical problems or weather are very low. Our search units are trying to verify whether pirates attacked it," Col. Ngo Ngoc Thu, Vietnamese Coast Guard Chief of staff, told the British Broadcasting Corp. Tuesday.

A quick search-and-rescue operation was launched while the ship was presumably still in Singapore shipping lanes, with no success. Vietnamese officials have asked their Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia counterparts for assistance in locating the ship.

At least six tankers in southeast Asian waters have been hijacked, between April and July of this year, for their oil cargoes, the International Maritime Bureau Piracy Reporting Center said.

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