Vessel off Lantau hijacked by gang

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 January, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 January, 1999, 12:00am

A vessel used as a refuelling station was hijacked off southern Lantau yesterday by armed men claiming to be mainland Customs officers.

The gang failed in an attempt to hijack a second, larger vessel when a Marine Police boat arrived on the scene near Tai A Chau.

The drama began at about 4pm when the master of the 750-tonne Fu Yung Shan called his shipping company for help, saying a speedboat with uniformed men was approaching.

Shortly afterwards, the master, 42, called again to report that three armed men had boarded his vessel and the 1,000-tonne Hang Fung, another refuelling vessel anchored nearby, and ordered them to weigh anchor.

The link was cut shortly after the master reported his radio equipment was being seized.

When Marine Police arrived, the Fu Yung Shan, which had a crew of six and a cargo of 300 tonnes of diesel worth $350,000, was already in mainland waters. They discontinued their pursuit.

The men aboard the Hang Fung fled in a speedboat.

The master and crew of the Hang Fung were last night helping with investigations. Both vessels are owned by Yuen Bong, a shipping company based in Sheung Wan.

A Government spokesman declined to give details of the incident last night.

He said: 'A request for police assistance was received at about 4pm and liaison with Chinese authorities is continuing.' There have been previous incidents in which armed men have boarded vessels used as refuelling stations and robbed crew members.