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In Gulf of Oman, Tankers Are Struck Again, Raising Fears of Wider Conflict

“I think the threat is imminent,” General McKenzie told NBC News, without offering specific evidence or other details.

One of the ships disabled on Thursday, the Front Altair, owned by the Norwegian shipping company Frontline, was burning and its crew had evacuated the vessel, according to a shipping industry official who was not authorized to speak for the record. CPC Corporation, the Taiwan oil company that had chartered the ship to carry naphtha, a petroleum product, confirmed that it had been attacked, and a company official told Reuters that a torpedo was suspected.

The Norwegian newspaper VG quoted a Frontline spokesman as saying that its ship was on fire and that all 23 crew members had been rescued. Maritime tracking websites say the Front Altair, registered in the Marshall Islands, had left the Emirati port of Ruwais, headed to Kaohsiung, in Taiwan.

The other tanker, the Panamanian-flagged Kokuka Courageous, was carrying methanol, and the Iranian state news media reported that it, too, was on fire. It was reportedly headed from the Saudi port of Al Jubail to Singapore. Both the ship’s owner and its operator said that all 21 crew members had abandoned ship and were later rescued by a nearby vessel.

“We received a report that our ship was attacked,” Yutaka Katada, the president of the ship’s operator, Kokuka Sangyo, said at a news conference. The crew, all Filipinos, “kept trying to avoid the attacks, but again received an attack three hours later. So crew members left the ship by lifeboats.”

The tanker’s owner, Bernhard Shulte, said in a statement that it had sustained damage to the hull on the starboard side and that one crew member had been slightly injured. The ship “ is not in any danger of sinking,” the company said. “The cargo of methanol is intact.”

Iran’s state news media said the two tankers had been hit by explosions, and confirmed the rescue of 44 mariners. The news channel IRINN said a rescue team from the southern Iranian province of Horozgan had picked up the crew of the ship carrying the Panamanian flag.

Source: NYT > World

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