Juin 13, 2019 at 08:00
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said « suspicious doesn’t begin to describe » the incident involving two tankers in the Gulf of Oman this morning.
Zarif said news of the reported attacks on Japan-linked tankers broke while Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was meeting Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
One of the two tankers involved in the incident, Kokuka Courageous, is owned by Japan-based company Kokuka Sangyo. According to Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry both tankers were carrying « Japan-related cargo. »
Abe is currently in Tehran on a visit viewed as an attempt to mediate US-Iran tensions — it is also the first trip by a Japanese premier since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
UK « deeply concerned » about Gulf of Oman incident
The UK government has said it is “deeply concerned” about an incident involving two tankers in the Gulf of Oman.
“We are deeply concerned by reports of explosions and fires on vessels in the Strait of Hormuz,” a government spokesperson told CNN on Thursday.
“We are in contact with local authorities and partners in the region.”
Investigation underway into explosion on board tanker
A fire broke out after an explosion on board the Front Altair, one of two ships involved in the security incident in the Gulf of Oman, according to International Tanker Management (ITM), which manages the tanker.
An investigation is underway into the cause of the explosion, which is as yet unknown, and ITM is working on plans to salvage the vessel.
All 23 crew members, who were unharmed, were picked up by another vessel, according to ITM. The front Altair was in the southern end of the Strait of Hormuz when the incident occurred.
Tanker was « attacked » with « some sort of shell, » Japanese ship owner says
From Yoko Wakatsuki in Tokyo
The Kokuka Courageous, one of two ships involved in the security incident in the Gulf of Oman, was « attacked » twice with « some sort of shell, » an official from the Japanese owner of the ship told CNN.
The first shot hit the tanker above sea level and the vessel caught fire briefly before the blaze was extinguished, according to Michio Yuube, the co-manager of the Japanese firm Kokuka Sangyo.
All 21 Philippine crew members on board the tanker were evacuated in life boats after the second shot and rescued by another ship now heading towards the UAE.
Yuube said that the attack happened off Fujaira, and that the Kokuka Courageous is now drifting with a shipment of chemical products onboard.
Iran says it rescued 44 crew members from the two affected tankers
From CNN’s Shirzad Bozorgmehr in Tehran
Forty-four sailors and crew members have been rescued by Iran’s navy from two tankers in the Gulf of Oman and have been taken to the Iranian island of Jask, according to Iran state-run news agency IRNA, citing informed sources on Thursday.
The report claimed the ships were “targeted” but did not detail by whom, or what.
Jask is an Iranian port in the south, about 12.5 miles from Oman’s shore.