x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Mystery explosion aboard tanker near Strait of Hormuz

A crude oil tanker, damaged by an explosion in the Strait of Hormuz, is about to arrive in port at Fujairah.

A Japanese oil tanker, damaged in what was believed to be an explosion in the Straits of Hormuz, is heading into port in Fujairah. The cause of the blast on the Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker, M.Star, carrying 270,000 tonnes of oil, is currently unknown, according to US Navy's Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet. The ship was travelling from Ruwais to Japan.

"An explosion occurred on his ship at 3.30am local Bahrain time on the starboard side of the vessel while it was transiting the Strait of Hormuz," Fifth Fleet said in a statement. "Initial damage assessment from the ship's owner, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd, Japan, is that one life boat was blown off the ship and there is some damage to the starboard hatches." A spokeswoman for Mitsui said the company believe it was "highly likely" to be an attack. "There is nothing that can explode in that part of the vessel," Eiko Mizuno told Associated Press. A crew member saw a flash of light before the explosion, indicating it was an external attack, she said. No one was seriously injured in the blast. The ship was due to arrive in Fujairah at 5pm UAE time official state news agency WAM reported. The news agency said the damage was caused by a high wave which resulted from a "seismic shock". There was no unusual seismic activity in the region today or yesterday, according to a spokesman for the National Center of Meteorology and Seismology. * With agencies