Explosions on Iranian oil tanker off Jeddah's coast cause spill

Explosions cause damage on vessel and oil is spilling into the Red Sea off Saudi coast.

An Iranian oil tanker in the Red Sea was hit by two suspected rockets on Friday off the coast of Saudi Arabia and oil is leaking from the vessel. 

The National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) said in a statement the hull of the ship sustained two separate explosions about 100km (60 miles) off the Saudi port city of Jeddah.


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, the tanker's owner, adding those on board were trying to repair the damage.


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

"Experts believe it was a terrorist attack," Iran's Students News Agency (ISNA) reported.

The Nour news agency, which is close to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, said the crew was safe.

"None of the crew members were injured at the explosion... The situation is under control," Nour reported. 

There was no immediate acknowledgment from Saudi Arabia about the blast.

"Information is still coming in," Al Jazeera's Zein Basravi reported from Tehran.

"What we do know is that this comes in a very difficult year in the waters of this region. Certainly, oil tanker and oil facilities have become a major flashpoint." 

Mysterious attacks

Several attacks on oil infrastructure in the Gulf have occurred in recent months amid heightened tensions across the Middle East.

Friday's incident comes after the United States alleged that Iran attacked oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz in June and July, accusations denied by Tehran.

Relations between Washington and Tehran have steadily deteriorated since last year's nuclear-deal withdrawal by the United States. 

After pulling out of the landmark accord, the US reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran's oil and banking sectors in what it calls a "maximum pressure" campaign.

Mysterious attacks on oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, Iran shooting down a US military surveillance drone, and other incidents across the Middle East followed President Donald Trump's decision.

Tensions rose further after drone and missile strikes hit Saudi Aramco facilities on September 14, halting about 5 percent of the world's oil production. 

Several countries blamed Iran for those attacks - but Tehran denied any responsibility.

Al Jazeera

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