Explosion on Iranian oil tanker allegedly hit by missiles near Saudi Arabia
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Explosion on Iranian oil tanker allegedly hit by missiles near Saudi Arabia

Ship’s owner says blast caused leak into Red Sea; crew unharmed and vessel ‘stable’

Illustrative photo: In this photo released by Iran's state-run IRIB News Agency, an oil tanker is on fire in the sea of Oman, June 13, 2019. (IRIB News Agency via AP)
Illustrative photo: In this photo released by Iran's state-run IRIB News Agency, an oil tanker is on fire in the sea of Oman, June 13, 2019. (IRIB News Agency via AP)

An Iranian oil tanker was hit by suspected missile strikes near the Saudi port of Jeddah on Friday, causing oil to leak into the Red Sea, the ship’s owner said.

State television said the explosion damaged two storerooms aboard the unnamed oil tanker and caused an oil leak into the Red Sea. It did not elaborate.

The state-run IRNA news agency, quoting Iran’s National Iranian Tanker Co., identified the stricken vessel as the Sabity. That vessel last turned on its tracking devices in August near the Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas.

The National Iranian Tanker Company said in a statement that the hull of the Sabiti was hit by two separate explosions about 100 kilometers (60 miles) off the Saudi coast.

It said the blasts were “probably caused by missile strikes.”

“All the ship’s crew are safe and the ship is stable too,” said NITC, adding those on board were trying to repair the damage.

The state-owned company said that contrary to reports, “there is no fire aboard the ship and the ship is completely stable.”

Lt. Pete Pagano, a spokesman for the US Navy’s 5th Fleet overseeing the Mideast, said authorities there were “aware of reports of this incident,” but declined to comment further.

There was no immediate acknowledgement from Saudi Arabia amid heightened tensions across the Middle East.

All reports said the explosion happened on Friday off the coast of Jeddah on the Red Sea.

The reported explosion comes after the US has blamed Iran in recent months for a series of mysterious attacks oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz.

Attacks in mid-September claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels damaged a third of Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure and sent global energy prices soaring. Washington, Riyadh, Berlin, London and Paris blamed Iran for the attacks, which Tehran has denied.

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