Iran state TV shows video of oil tanker blaze
Iran state TV on Thursday released a video showing smoke pouring from an oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman, with photos released from the news agency also revealing flames billowing from the centre of the vessel.
IRIB news released a blurry video showing a vessel apparently being hit by an explosion, following reports that two tankers were abandoned in the Gulf of Oman after "coming under attack".
A state-run IRNA photo showed a blaze on the tanker, which appears to be the Front Altair, owned by Frontline.
Both the US and Iran claimed to have assisted the vessels, that signaled for help off the coast of Fujairah, UAE.
"We are aware of the reported attack on shipping vessels in the Gulf of Oman. US Naval Forces in the region received two separate distress calls at 6am local (Bahrain) time and a second one at 7am. The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Bainbridge (DDG 96) rendered assistance," the US 5th Fleet Public Affairs said in a statement.
Iran state media also said its naval forces rescued 44 crew members after an "accident" on a tanker on Thusday.
"Forty-four sailors from the two foreign oil tankers which had an accident this morning in the Sea of Oman were saved from the water by the (navy) rescue unit of Hormozgan province and transferred to the port of Bandar-e-Jask," Iran's state news agency reported.
It comes a month after a similar incident in the same area, involving four ships.
Iran or its proxies have been held responsible by some for the attacks, which follows tensions with the US and Saudi Arabia after Washington enforced tough new sanctions on Tehran.
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Tehran-linked Houthi rebels have also carried out a number of attacks inside Saudi Arabia, including a missile strike on an airport in the south of the kingdom.
The attacks coincided with a visit from Japan's Prime Minister to Tehran, with Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei rebuffing the premier's bid for talks with the US.
Tehran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that the attacks on two tankers off the Iranian coast just as Japan's prime minister held Tehran talks was more than suspicious.
"Reported attacks on Japan-related tankers occurred while PM @AbeShinzo was meeting with Ayatollah @khamenei_ir for extensive and friendly talks. Suspicious doesn't begin to describe what likely transpired this morning," Zarif tweeted.
Four vessels last month sustained damage off the coast of Fujairah in alleged missile strikes.