Oil tanker hit by ‘external source’ in Saudi Arabia, says shipping firm Hafnia

Seagulls fly in front of the Red Sea port city of Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, October 11, 2019. (AP)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — An oil tanker off Saudi Arabia’s port city of Jeddah suffered an explosion early on Monday after being hit by “an external source”, a shipping company said.

“BW Rhine has been hit from an external source whilst discharging at Jeddah, Saudi Arabia at approximately 00:40 local time on 14 December 2020, causing an explosion and subsequent fire onboard,” Hafnia said in a statement on its website, Reuters reported.

The Singapore-flagged BW Rhine saw all 22 sailors on board escape without injury, the company said, warning that it was possible some oil leaked out from the site of the blast, according to AP.

It added that the fire was put out and parts of the ship’s hull had been damaged.

The United Kingdom Marine Trade Operations, an organization under Britain’s royal navy, urged ships in the area to exercise caution and said investigations were ongoing.

Dryad Global, a maritime intelligence firm, also reported the blast. No one immediately offered a cause.

The BW Rhine has the capacity to carry 60,000-80,000 tons of light and middle distillate oil products, according to Hafnia and shipping data on Refinitiv.

The tanker loaded about 60,000 tons of gasoline from Yanbu port on Dec. 6, the data showed. It is currently 84% full, according to its draft.

The explosion comes after a mine exploded and damaged a ship off Saudi Arabia last month. Another attack targeted a cargo shop off the small port city of Nishtun in Yemen’s far east earlier this month.

Dryad Global said if it was the Houthis behind Sunday’s blast, it “would represent a fundamental shift in both targeting capabilities and intent.”

(Esta Media Network/Agencies)

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