Saudi Arabia-led coalition says Greek vessel off the coast of Shuqaiq has suffered minor damage from shrapnel, state media reported.
The Saudi Arabia-led coalition fighting the Houthis in Yemen says a commercial vessel has suffered minor damage from a blast in what it described as a foiled “terrorist act”, state media Al Arabiya reported.
The blast on Wednesday hit the MT Agrari, a Maltese-flagged, Greek-managed vessel off the coast of Shuqaiq, Saudi Arabia, just north of the Yemeni border, damaging its hull.
The alliance forces destroyed an explosives-rigged boat in the southern Red Sea, Al Arabiya reported.
“The terrorist acts of the Houthi militia with Iranian support threaten world shipping and trade,” the alliance said, according to Al Arabiya.
British maritime security company Ambrey said the Agrari, managed by TMS Tankers, was damaged by a mine while berthed at the Shuqaiq Steam Power Plant (SSPP).
“The explosion took place in port limits and punctured the hull of the vessel, which is in ballast,” Ambrey said in a statement, adding that the vessel arrived at Shuqaiq on Monday.
A source from the Athens-based shipping company TMS told Reuters: “I can’t confirm what exactly the cause was. It is possible [that it was from a mine], certainly it was a blast. We have nobody injured, there is no spill or pollution. The ship is in good condition, everyone is OK.”
In a statement, TMS Tankers said the incident happened at midnight GMT.
“It was attacked by an unknown source … after completion of her discharging and preparing to depart,” it said, adding it was struck “about one metre above the waterline and has suffered a breach”.
The ship was still floating off the coast and had been boarded by Saudi officials, the company said.
A Greek ministry press official said the Agrari MT tanker was flying a Maltese flag and there were 25 crew members onboard including seven Greeks.
Owned by the Economou group of companies, the tanker was carrying no cargo when the explosion happened, the ministry added.
All damage to the ship was above the waterline, one ministry source who asked not to be named said.
The source added that Saudi Arabian police were investigating the cause of the blast.
The Red Sea is a vital shipping lane for both cargo and the world’s energy supplies.
So far, there has been no comment from the Houthis, who are aligned with Iran, Saudi Arabia’s regional rival.
The explosion comes amid rising tensions between Saudi Arabia and the Houthis, who recently intensified cross-border attacks on the monarchy.
On Monday, a cruise missile fired by Houthi rebels struck an oil facility in Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea city of Jeddah.
On Tuesday, the Saudi Arabia-led coalition said it had destroyed five naval mines allegedly laid by Houthis in the southern Red Sea.
Two weeks ago, a fire near a floating platform belonging to the Jazan oil products terminal was contained with no injuries.
That fire was the result of another attempted Houthi attack, in which the Saudi Arabia-led coalition intercepted and destroyed two explosive-laden boats in the southern Red Sea.
The military coalition has been battling the Houthis in Yemen since March 2015.