3 aircraft tracking down tanker hijackers

The oil tanker MT Orkim Harmony had been repainted and renamed 'Kim Harmon'.

KUALA LUMPUR - Three aircraft are deployed to track down the escaped hijackers of the MT Orkim Harmony, said Navy chief Admiral Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Jaafar.

Apart from the P3 Orion, C130 and a Beechcraft aircraft, the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) has tasked three ships and two helicopters to join the search operation.

Abdul Aziz, who is updating the operation through his Twitter account, said the eight hijackers fled the vessel at around 8.30pm on Thursday using its rescue boat.

The 22 crew members on board MT Orkim Harmony were freed at about 2.30am, Friday.

They were all safe except for an Indonesian cook, who was injured due to a gunshot to the thigh.

Abdul Aziz told Bernama that the RMN would investigate the cause of the incident.

The oil tanker, carrying 6,000 tonnes of petrol worth RM21million (S$7.5 million), left Malacca on June 11 and went missing soon after.

It was scheduled to arrive at the Kuantan Port at 10.30am the following day but communications with the ship was lost at 8.57pm.

The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) said it was notified at 6.30am the next day that the tanker was missing.

Assets from the RMN, MMEA and Royal Malaysian Air Force were sent to hunt for it.

The vessel, first reported to be adrift in Cambodian waters, suddenly changed course to the east towards Natuna Island, Indonesia.

The cargo belongs to Petronas while the ship's owner is Magna Meridian Sdn Bhd.

Authorities confirmed that MT Orkim Harmony had been repainted and renamed 'Kim Harmon' by the pirates.