Gulf of Oman ‘tanker blasts’: US Navy aids distressed vessels

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Image captionOne of the ships damaged in the 12 May attack off the UAE

The US Navy’s 5th Fleet says it is rendering assistance after receiving separate distress calls from two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

Regional media reported explosions and fires on both vessels, reportedly the Front Altair and Kokuka Courageous.

Crew from both of the vessels have been safely evacuated, Reuters reports.

The incident comes a month after four tankers were attacked off the United Arab Emirates, which it blamed on an unnamed “state actor”.

The US said Iran was behind the attacks, which involved naval mines, an accusation Tehran denied. The attacks increased long-standing tensions between Iran and the US and its allies in the Gulf.

Oil prices rose as much as 3.9% from a near five-month low following Thursday’s incident, Bloomberg reports.

Josh Frey, of the 5th Fleet, said in a statement: “US naval forces in the region received two separate distress calls at 06:12 local time (08:12 GMT) and a second one at 07:00.

“US Navy ships are in the area and are rendering assistance.”

The UK Royal Navy-linked UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) safety group earlier issued a warning, urging “extreme caution” in the area.

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