Iranian oil tanker on fire after being hit by rockets in terrorist attack
Two rockets have struck an Iranian oil tanker in the Red Sea off the coast of Saudi Arabia, causing a major explosion, according to officials in Tehran.
“Two missiles hit the Iran-owned ship near the Jeddah port city of Saudi Arabia,” state television reported.
The semi-official ISNA news agency said the blast had caused extensive damage.
“Experts believe it was a terrorist attack,” the agency reported, adding that oil was spilling out into the sea.
The vessel remains on fire in the Red Sea following the blast, which occurred early on Friday morning.
The Nour news agency reported that all crew members were safe.
“None of the crew members were injured at the explosion… the situation is under control,” the news agency, which is close to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, reported.
A spokesperson for the US Navy’s 5th Fleet, which oversees the region, said authorities there were “aware of reports of this [latest] incident,” but declined to comment further.
State news agencies, quoting the country’s national tanker company, identified the vessel as the Sabity.
Tracking devices last place the Sabity near the Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas.
“We are watching the news closely but are relieved that early reports indicate that the crew are safe and there are no injuries,” said Guy Platten, secretary general of the International Chamber of Shipping.
The organisation represents ship owners and operators.
“The safety of seafarers is of paramount importance,” Mr Platten added.
Tensions in the gulf are particularly high after Iran allegedly carried out a series of attacks on oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz.
On 14 September drones also attacked Saudi Arabia’s Aramco oil facilities, devastating two production sites and halving the kingdom’s output.
The US believes Iran is responsible for the attack but Tehran denies any involvement.
Yemen’s Houthi rebels have claimed the Aramco attack, though analysts say the missiles used could not have crossed the distance from Yemen to Saudi Arabia.