Sunday, March 6, 2011

Pirates attack oil tanker on way to Jamnagar

Gandhinagar: An oil tanker on its way from Antwerp in Belgium to the Jamnagar coast was attacked by pirates on Friday in mid-sea. The pirates attacked it with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms, about 400 nautical miles off Porbandar coast. The tanker was bringing crude oil for a major refinery in Jamnagar.

Indian Coast Guard officials said the pirates may be from Somalia. The tanker managed to ward off the pirates and reached Indian waters on Sunday. A major disaster was averted when the Gujarat police, aided by the Indian Coast Guard, defused a grenade on board the Greece-registered MT Agea. The grenade had been fired by the pirates and had not exploded. The Coast Guard’s regional headquarters in Gandhinagar was intimated about the attack and the impending disaster with the unexploded grenade aboard a tanker full with crude oil. The tanker was asked to anchor outside the Gulf of Kutch, 15 nautical miles off Okha.

In the meantime, an Indian Coast Guard hovercraft reached the vessel with a bomb disposal squad of the Gujarat police. A standby squad from the Indian Navy had also been mobilised. The live grenade was disarmed after a three-hour operation. The vessel was then cleared for passage to Sikka in Jamnagar.

Gujarat director general of police Chittranjan Singh said, “We were asked for help by the Coast Guard in the morning. We sent our bomb disposal squad and helped avert a major disaster.”

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