Oil tanker on fire after Houthi missile attack, firm says

Oil tanker on fire after Houthi missile attack, firm says
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An oil tanker is on fire in the Gulf of Aden, its operator says, after Houthis said they hit it with a missile.

The movement said it had targeted the Marlin Luanda on Friday evening.

Operator Trafigura told the BBC the strike caused a fire in one of the ship’s cargo tanks and firefighting equipment was being used to contain it.

US officials told the BBC’s US partner CBS the tanker was hit by an anti-ship ballistic missile and a naval ship was responding to its distress signal.

There were no injuries reported, the US officials said.

It is the latest attack on commercial shipping by the Houthis in and around the Red Sea.

The UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) said that the incident happened 60 nautical miles south-east of Aden.

The UKMTO said authorities had been informed and were responding to the latest strike, and warned other vessels to transit with caution and report any suspicious activity.

Trafigura confirmed the vessel had been struck and military ships were on their way to provide assistance.

“Firefighting equipment on board is being deployed to suppress and control the fire caused in one cargo tank on the starboard side,” a Trafigura spokesperson said.

“The safety of the crew is our foremost priority. We remain in contact with the vessel and are monitoring the situation carefully.”

The oil tanker is flagged with the Marshall Islands.

Houthi military spokesman Yaha Sarea said the group used “a number of appropriate naval missiles” and Friday’s strike was “direct”.

Since November, the Iran-backed Houthis have launched dozens of attacks on commercial vessels travelling through the Red Sea, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, where Israel is fighting Hamas.

The US and UK have launched air strikes on the group in response to its attacks, prompting the Houthis to warn they would increase their attacks on shipping.

The UK and US are also targeting the Iran-backed militant group with sanctions to cut of its financial resources.

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Source: bbc.co.uk

By David Ryckman