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US Tanker Hijacked

ATHENS — The Greek-registered tanker Irene SL heading to the US carrying crude oil worth nearly $200 million was hijacked by Somali Pirates in the Indian Ocean on Wednesday, January 9, in one of the biggest hijackings in the area so far.

The hijacking marks a significant shift in piracy and the crisis could “strangle” vital shipping lanes, the association of supertanker owners warned.

The Irene SL, the length of three soccer pitches and with 25 crew members on board, was carrying about 2 million barrels of oil, or nearly one fifth of daily U.S. crude imports.

The hijacking came a day after an Italian tanker carrying oil worth more than $60 million was snatched by Somali pirates, reinforcing industry fears that the piracy scourge is “spinning out of control”.

“This morning the vessel was attacked by armed men,” the Irene SL’s Greece-based manager Enesel said. “For the moment there is no communication with the vessel.”