June 20, 2021

Mine explodes, damaging oil tanker off Saudi Arabia

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A mine in the Red Sea off Saudi Arabia’s coast near Yemen exploded and damaged an oil tanker Wednesday, authorities said, the latest incident targeting the kingdom amid its long war against Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

The blast happened before dawn and struck the MT Agrari, a Maltese-flagged, Greek-managed oil tanker near Shuqaiq, Saudi Arabia.

“Their vessel was attacked by an unknown source,” a statement from the Agrari’s operator, TMS Tankers Ltd., said. “The Agrari was struck about 1 meter 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. Shuqaiq is some 160 kilometers (100 miles) north by sea from the Yemeni border.

Ambrey, a British security firm, reported the blast and attributed it to a mine. It said the Agrari had cargo from Rotterdam, Netherlands, 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.

The United Kingdom Marine Trade Operations, an information exchange overseen by the British royal navy in the region, acknowledged a ship had “experienced an explosion,” without elaborating. The U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, responsible for patrolling the waterways of the Mideast, said it was aware of the incident.

Saudi state television later aired a report claiming a military coalition led by the kingdom destroyed a bomb-laden Houthi drone boat and that a merchant ship sustained light damage. The report offered no details and it wasn’t immediately clear if the report was the same incident at Shuqaiq.

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