Search reveals oil tanker no longer in Malaysian waters

Search reveals oil tanker no longer in Malaysian waters
PHOTO: Reuters

PETALING JAYA - The search for missing oil tanker MT Orkim Harmony has gone beyond Malaysian waters, said Maritime Vice-Admiral Datuk Ahmad Puzi Ab Kahar.

"In theory, we should have been able to identify the location if it was still in our waters.

"We have already combed our waters with the five aircraft, eight vessels and three interceptors that are involved in the search.

"It looks like it is not in our waters," the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) deputy director-general told The Star yesterday.

Admiral Ahmad Puzi said efforts in the search for the missing tanker near Indonesia's Natuna and Anambas Islands in the South China Sea, an area that was said to be the most likely location by the Indonesian authorities, had already begun.

"We have already obtained clearance from the Vietnamese, Thai and Indonesian authorities to search in their waters.

"They (Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia) have also sent their assets to assist us," Admiral Ahmad Puzi said, adding that an Australian P-3 Orion maritime aircraft was also assisting in the search.

He also did not rule out the possibility that "insiders" could have been a factor in the tanker's disappearance.

"We cannot simply assume what had happened but there are possibilities. We do not deny that," he said.

"There were 22 people onboard. There has to be someone on the watch.

"If anyone or anything was nearby that was a danger to the tanker, it would definitely be detected. And there is a panic button and the alarms would have gone off if there was a problem," he said.

He added that if the communications system or alarm system were not off, the authorities should still be able to track the tanker.

The tanker, which was carrying RON95 fuel belonging to Petronas worth RM21mil (S$7.5mil), left Malacca on Wednesday and was to arrive at Kuantan Port at 10.30am the next day, but communication was lost at about 8.57pm.

The MMEA was notified at about 6.30am on Saturday that it was missing.

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