Explosion damages oil tanker off Saudi Arabia

6 months ago 5
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Blast off the coast of Shuqaiq near Yemen border hits a Maltese-flagged, Greek-managed vessel.

An explosion has damaged an oil tanker off the coast of Saudi Arabia in the Red Sea near the border with Yemen, according to a private security firm.

The blast on Wednesday hit the MT Agrari, a Maltese-flagged, Greek-managed vessel off the coast of Shuqaiq.

A statement from the Agrari’s operators, quoted by The Associated Press news agency, said the tanker “was attacked by an unknown source”.

“The Agrari was struck about 1 metre above the waterline and has suffered a breach. It has been confirmed that the crew are safe and there have been no injuries.”

The ship was still floating off the coast and had been boarded by Saudi officials, the company said. Saudi Arabia did not immediately acknowledge the incident.

Ambrey, a British security firm, reported the blast and attributed it to a mine.

It said the Agrari had cargo from Rotterdam, Netherlands and that it had discharged at the Shuqaiq Steam Power Plant.

“The explosion took place in port limits and punctured the hull of the vessel,” Ambrey said.

It came after a cruise missile fired by Yemen’s Houthi rebels struck an oil facility in Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea city of Jeddah on Monday.

A Saudi Arabia-led military coalition has been battling the Houthis since March 2015. Houthi military officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The US Navy’s 5th Fleet, responsible for patrolling the waterways of the Mideast, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Red Sea is a vital shipping lane for both cargo and the world’s energy supplies.

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