BINTULU – Although its multi million ringgit oily cargo was spared, pirates which attacked tugboat and barge off Bintulu Tuesday night made off with several belongings and an undisclosed amount of cash belonging to the captain and crew.
And though they were found safe Wednesday, all 10 crew members including the boat’s captain was left traumatised after they were intercepted and robbed by a group of men, believed to be pirates.
The palm oil cargo however, was spared during the incident.
“The vessels were intercepted by a group of individuals on two boats upon entering the waters here at 8.30pm on Tuesday,” said Bintulu district MMEA director Captain Maritime Aminuddin Abdul Rashid.
“According to the captain and crew, the robbers were armed with parang,” he said in a statement Wednesday night.
The tugboat and barge laden with 2,499 metric tonnes of palm oil worth more than RM14 million, was reported missing for 20 hours, according to an NSTonline story.
The two vessels were found by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency’s (MMEA) search and rescue (SAR) team about 30 nautical miles off the Bintulu Port at 3.25pm.
Aminuddin said the vessels, which were headed to Port Klang in Selangor, had departed from Lahad Datu, Sabah on Oct 20.
He said the MMEA had initiated the SAR mission following a report lodged by the company, which owned the two vessels.
It was learnt that since the vessels departed from Sabah, the captain would file a report twice daily to the company.
The company, according to the report, realised something was amiss when they could not reach the captain, triggering fears that something was wrong with the shipment.
The company’s fear worsened upon receiving information that the tugboat and barge had separated from each other.
Aminuddin said both tugboat and barge together with its crew have brought to the Bintulu Port for investigation.
“We are still in the midst of ascertaining the losses involved from the robbery.
“MMEA views the incident seriously and will intensify patrols to monitor the safety within the Bintulu waters.”