S Korea Fears Ship Hijacked by Somali Pirates

The Hanjin Tianjin had a crew of 14 South Koreans and six Indonesians.

Kamis, 21 April 2011, 16:03 Bonardo Maulana Wahono
(AP Photo/ Arabian Navy)

Hanjin Shipping Co. Ltd. lost contact with the 75,000-ton Hanjin Tianjin around 5 a.m Thursday (2000 GMT Wednesday) and it is suspected to have been hijacked, said Cho Byung-jae, a spokesman for South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Hanjin confirmed the ministry's account of the incident.

Cho said an emergency response team had been formed to deal with the crisis and that the Choi Young, a 4,400 ton helicopter-carrying warship with a crew of 200, had been deployed to help in a possible rescue attempt.

The Hanjin Tianjin had a crew of 14 South Koreans and six Indonesians, Hanjin spokeswoman Sonya Cho said. She said the ship transmitted a coded distress call reserved for use in cases of pirate attack when the vessel was about 250 miles (400 kilometers) east of Yemen's Socotra island.

In recent years Somali pirates operating off the east African coast have hijacked at least eight South Korean ships, all of which were released, many after South Korean companies paid a ransom.

In January, South Korean commandos attacked the Samho Jewelry after it had been hijacked, killing eight pirates and arresting five others, with no loss of life to crew members. The surviving pirates were brought back to South Korea and are now awaiting trail.

Cho Byung-jae ruled out the possibility that the South Korean government might hold talks with the Hanjin Tianjin's purported captors.

"It has been our government's consistent position that we do not negotiate with pirates," he said. "This will not change in the future."


Associated Press

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