A senior Iranian official has rejected media reports that an oil tanker has drowned in the Sea of Oman after being hit on Thursday morning.
The Front Altair oil tanker, moving Ethanol from Qatar to Taiwan with the flag of Marshal Islands, caught fire at 8:05 local time, 25 miles from Iran’s Jask Port.
A second Panama-flagged tanker Kokuka Corageous, moving Methanol from Saudi Arabia to Singapore, also caught fire at 9:50, 30 miles from Jask.
It was earlier reported that the Front Altair had completely drowned, but now the director of Ports and Maritime Organization of Iran’s Hormozgan province denies that.
The fire in the Panama-flagged vessel has been fully extinguished, and after safety measures, its 21 crew members will return to the vessel, whose cargo is also unharmed.
The Marshal Island-flagged vessel, however, is still on fire, but it has not drowned, the official added.
“All its 23 crew members are now safe and sound in Iran’s Jask port,” he noted.
Shortly after the incident, the Iranian rescue vessel NAJI approached them and managed to rescue the crew members and transfer 44 crew members to Jask.
An informed source at the Iranian Armed Forces had earlier said after receiving call for emergency help from crew members of incident-hit vessels in Sea of Oman, several boats and choppers of Iranian Navy were dispatched to the scene along with rescue forces, and transferred some of the crew to Jask Port.
Neighbours Beware of Plots to Destabilize Region
Reacting to the incidents, Iranian Government Spokesman Ali Rabi’ee expressed Tehran’s deep concern and regret over the explosion of the two Japan-related oil tankers.
“All regional states must be careful not to be trapped by those who benefit from instability in region,” he noted.
“The Iranian government is ready for regional security cooperation to ensure safety in strategic waterways,” he added.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also reacted to the incidents, saying, “Reported attacks on Japan-related tankers occurred while PM Abe Shinzo was meeting with Ayatollah Khamenei for extensive and friendly talks.”
“Suspicious doesn’t begin to describe what likely transpired this morning,” he noted.
“Iran’s proposed Regional Dialogue Forum is imperative,” Zarif went on to say, referring to his earlier proposal to Arab countries in the region to establish a forum for discussing regional issues.