Crews rescued after Gulf tanker explosions

Dozens of crew members have been rescued after abandoning two oil tankers hit by explosions in the Gulf of Oman.

Iran said it had rescued the 21 crew members on board the Kokuka Courageous and the 23 on the Front Altair, though the US said its Navy had rescued some.

The cause of the blasts in one of the world’s busiest oil routes is unclear and both vessels are still afloat.

An Iranian official told the BBC: “Iran has no connection with the incident.”

“Somebody is trying to destabilise relations between Iran and the international community,” the senior official added.

Oil prices rose as much as 4.5 per cent from a near five-month low following yesterday’s incident, Bloomberg reports.

It comes a month after four oil tankers were attacked off the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

No group or country has claimed responsibility for that incident, which caused no casualties.

President Donald Trump tightened America’s sanctions on Iran in May, and the US recently strengthened its forces in the area – saying there was a danger of Iranian attacks.

Yesterday, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei ruled out any negotiations with the US aimed at easing the tensions.

He was quoted as saying during talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that he did not see President Trump as being worthy of any exchange of messages.

The cause has not been confirmed.

The Norwegian-owned Front Altair had been “attacked”, the Norwegian Maritime Authority said, leading to three explosions on board.

Wu I-fang, a spokesman for Taiwan’s CPC Corp oil refiner, which chartered the Front Altair, said it was carrying 75,000 tonnes of naphtha and was “suspected of being hit by a torpedo”, although this has not been confirmed.

Other unverified reports suggested a mine attack.

The ship’s owner, Frontline, said the vessel was on fire – but denied reports in Iran media it had sunk.

The operator of the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous, BSM Ship Management, said its crew abandoned ship and were rescued by a passing vessel.

The tanker was carrying methanol and was not in danger of sinking, a spokesman said.

It is currently located about 130km (80 miles) from Fujairah in the UAE and 16 miles from Iran. The cargo remains intact. –BBC

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