Iranian tanker ‘struck by two missiles’ off coast of Saudi Arabia
The incident in the Red Sea comes amid heightened tensions.
Two missiles have struck an Iranian tanker travelling through the Red Sea off the coast of Saudi Arabia, according to Iranian officials.
It is the latest incident in the region amid months of heightened tensions between Tehran and the US.
There was no word from Saudi Arabia about the reported attack and Saudi officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Oil prices spiked by 2% on the news.
Iranian state television said the explosion damaged two storerooms aboard the tanker and caused an oil leak into the Red Sea near the Saudi port city of Jiddah. The leak was later stopped.
The state-run Irna news agency, quoting Iran’s National Iranian Tanker, identified the stricken vessel as the Sabity.
It turned on its tracking devices late on Friday morning in the Red Sea, putting its location some 80 miles south-west of Jiddah, according to data from MarineTraffic.com.
The ship is carrying some 1 million barrels of crude oil, analysis by data firm Refinitiv showed.
Images released by Iran’s Petroleum Ministry appeared to show no visible damage to the Sabiti visible from its bridge, though they did not show the ship’s sides.
A statement on Irna said: “The oil tanker… sustained damages to the body when it was hit by missiles 60 miles from the Saudi port city of Jiddah.”
The agency did not name any nation suspected of launching the missiles.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi described the incident as an “attack” carried out by those committing “dangerous adventurism”.
In a statement, he said the Sabiti was struck twice in the span of half-an-hour and an investigation is under way.
Lieutenant Pete Pagano, a spokesman for the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet overseeing the Middle East, said authorities there are “aware of reports of this incident”, but declined to comment further.
The reported attack comes after the US has alleged that in past months Iran attacked oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, something denied by Tehran.
Friday’s incident could push tensions between Iran and the US even higher, more than a year after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the nuclear deal and imposed sanctions now crushing Iran’s economy.
The mysterious attacks on oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, Iran shooting down a US military surveillance drone and other incidents across the wider Middle East followed Mr Trump’s decision.
The latest assault saw Saudi Arabia’s vital oil industry come under a drone-and-cruise-missile attack, halving the kingdom’s output.
The US has blamed Iran for the attack, something denied by Tehran.