A Hong Kong cargo ship loaded with 36,000 tonnes of wheat bound for Iran was hijacked on Tuesday by pirates in the Gulf of Aden, near the Yemeni coast.
The latest example of piracy came as a Saudi supertanker, seized by pirates on Monday and laden with an estimated 2m barrels of oil, was confirmed to be anchored off the coast of Somalia.
By Andrew England in Cairo and Robert Wright in London and Demetri Sevastopulo in Washington
Vela International, owner of the oil tanker called Sirus Star, said on Tuesday that they had established contact with the pirates and were seeking to ensure the safety of the 25-man crew.
The pirates seized control of the tanker on Saturday, 450 nautical miles south-east of the Kenyan Indian Ocean port of Mombasa. The attack marked a significant escalation in the scope of banditry in the region.
It is estimated that the tanker was holding more than a quarter of the daily exports from Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter. The oil would have been worth about $100m (€79m, £66.5m) at Monday’s market price but is probably of little interest to the pirates.
Meanwhile, the official Xinhua agency, citing China’s maritime search and rescue centre, said that a Hong Kong cargo ship called Delight with 25 crew members bound for Bandar Abbas port in Iran had been hijacked in the Gulf of Aden.