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Sunday 5 February 2023 Dublin: 7°C
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# Middle East
Oil tanker ‘hit by bomb-carrying drone’ off coast of Oman
The tanker is owned by an Israeli billionaire and suspicion has fallen on Iran.

AN OIL TANKER associated with an Israeli billionaire has been struck by a bomb-carrying drone off the coast of Oman amid heightened tensions with Iran, an official said.

The attack happened last night, according to the Middle East-based defence source.

United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, a British military organisation in the region monitoring shipping, told the Associated Press: “We are aware of an incident and it’s being investigated at this time.”

The official identified the vessel as the Liberian-flagged Pacific Zircon, operated by Singapore-based Eastern Pacific Shipping, a company ultimately owned by Israeli billionaire Idan Ofer.

In a statement, Eastern Pacific said the Pacific Zircon, carrying gas oil, had been “hit by a projectile” 150 miles off the coast of Oman.

“We are in communication with the vessel and there is no report of injuries or pollution. All crew are safe and accounted for,” the company said.

“There is some minor damage to the vessel’s hull but no spillage of cargo or water ingress.”

No one immediately claimed the attack but suspicion has turned towards Iran.

Iran and Israel have been involved in a years-long shadow war in the wider Middle East, with some drone attacks targeting Israeli-associated vessels travelling around the region.

The US also blamed Iran for a series of attacks off the coast of the United Arab Emirates in 2019. Tehran then started escalating its nuclear programme after the US unilaterally withdraw from its atomic deal with world powers.

In 2021, a suspected Iranian drone strike hit Israeli-associated oil tanker Mercer Street off Oman, killing two people onboard.

Iranian state media did not immediately acknowledge the attack on the Pacific Zircon.

It is not immediately clear where the vessel is today.

Satellite-tracking data from late last night provided by MarineTraffic.com put the vessel deep in the Arabian Sea after leaving the Omani port of Sohar.

Author
Press Association
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