A Vietnamese vessel carrying more than 5,200 tonnes of oil has gone missing in international waters prompting a major search operation.

The oil tanker was en route to the Quang Tri port from Singapore when it vanished from all radars after 40 minutes of its departure.

AFP, quoting the Kuala Lumpur-based International Maritime Bureau's Piracy Reporting Centre, said the vessel may have been hijacked.

The Strait of Malacca between Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia is reported to be prone to piracy and the prime targets have been oil tankers.

The Sunrise-689 was carrying an 18-member crew and 5,226 tonnes of petroleum products when it lost both radio and radar contact at about 04:30am local time on Friday, 3 October.

The ship, owned by Hai Phong Seafood Shipbuilding Joint Stock Company, last made contact when it was 120 nautical miles north-east of Singapore and 360 nautical miles from the Vietnamese province of Ca Mau. Sunrise was thought to be sailing in foul weather conditions.

Vietnam has alerted maritime authorities in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines seeking their assistance.

The disappearance of Sunrise comes within days of a Malaysian warship going missing off the Sabah coast.