23 Filipino crew members of hijacked tanker rescued

ALL of the 23 Filipino crew members on board the M/T Bunga Laurel are safe when the tanker arrived at M/T Bunga Laurel last January 31, according to the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The Malaysian Navy commandos launched a successful interdiction and rescue operation of the Panama-flagged and Malaysian owned tanker from Somali pirates at the Gulf of Aden 11 days ago.

The seven Malaysian commandos, who were also on board, turned over custody of the seven Somali pirates captured during the operation to police authorities.

Upon instructions of Ambassador Victoriano Lecaros, an Embassy team composed of Consul General Renato Villa, Labor Attaché Alicia Santos and Welfare Officer Robert Chuan boarded the tanker and met the all-Filipino crew members last February 1.

The Embassy team conducted reintegration services to the Filipino crew members, who will receive benefits under their insurance scheme and under the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) employment contract.

MISC Fleet Manning Operations Senior Manager Achuthan Nair Balan said the crew members will also receive compensations for their personal belongings lost during the incident and de-stressing and psychiatric sessions to ease their trauma.

The crew members will also be provided complete health care coverage upon their arrival in the Philippines.

The vessel was loaded with a cargo of lube oil from Le Havre, France and of ethylene chloride from Stade, Germany. It stopped for refueling in Jeddah and proceeded to the Gulf of Aden, north of the Indian Ocean, where it was boarded by Somali pirates.

The tanker’s captain was able to alert M/V Bunga Das 5, the Malaysian naval ship providing security escort to Malaysian merchant ships passing through the Gulf of Aden.

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