VIETNAM - A vietnamese sailor, who died shortly after he was airlifted by helicopter from a Vietnamese tanker to a hospital here, is believed to have been shot in the forehead by pirates who hijacked the ship early on Sunday morning.
The 34-year-old third engineer, whose name is not known, died about 15 minutes after reaching the Singapore hospital, sources said.
The seven armed pirates had boarded the VP Asphalt 2, which had been on its way from Singapore to Vietnam.
The pirates boarded at around 5.30am on Sunday, and robbed crew members at gunpoint before leaving at around 6.45am, according to an incident update by the Information Sharing Centre (ISC) of the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia.
The asphalt/bitumen tanker was in the South China Sea, approximately 20 nautical miles south-east of Pulau Aur, Malaysia, when it was hijacked, said the ISC.
The third engineer was found on his bed after the pirates left, it said.
None of the other 16 crew members was injured.
A Republic of Singapore Air Force Super Puma helicopter airlifted the injured sailor at around 10.20am, after medical assistance was requested.
The ISC said the death of the third engineer is the first such incident in Asia since 2009.
It strongly advised crew members to avoid resisting or retaliating against armed pirates.
The authorities in Singapore are believed to be conducting an autopsy on the victim.
The Vietnamese Embassy said it is in touch with his family members, and they are expected to arrive in Singapore later today.
The Police Coast Guard is believed to have interviewed the 16 crew members on board the vessel, which later returned to Singapore.
Vietnamese Embassy staff have also met the police and visited the crew on board the ship.
This article was first published on December 9, 2014.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.