Cause of explosion on Japanese tanker in Hormuz remains unclear

15:46, July 29, 2010      

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An investigation is underway Thursday to determine the cause of the damage to a Japanese tanker in the Strait of Hormuz a day earlier, originally thought to be an explosion related to a pirate attack.

The owners of the M. Star super tanker, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. , concurred with the Japanese Consulate General in Dubai that an explosion had caused the damage and piracy was suspected, however latest media reports suggest that the vessel was hit by a tremor- triggered wave.

Oman's coastguard cited a tremor as the cause of the incident, while a Fujairah port official also said the ship was hit by a tremor-triggered wave, according to local media reports.

The incident took place at about 12:30 a.m. Wednesday local time when the 160,292-ton ship, loaded with 270,000 tonnes of oil, was sailing in Oman waters carrying crude oil from the port of Das Island in Abu Dhabi to Japan's Chiba port.

According to Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd., no oil was leaked although Kazumi Makamura, a spokeswoman for the shipping line, said the galley windows were damaged and the bridge wing door was buckled.

She also stated the company is unsure as to when the investigation will be concluded. Another spokesperson for the company said that there was nothing that could have exploded in the part of the vessel that was damaged.

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. reported that one of the ship's 31 crew members suffered minor injuries and local media reports said that there was a flash of light before the explosion leading investigators to originally think an external attack was the cause.

Investigators are currently surveying the ship which, despite the damage, sailed from the western part of the strait to where it is now docked in Fujairah.

The UAE's state news agency, WAM, cited a UAE official as saying Thursday there was no possibility the damage was caused by an attack and that no trace elements of explosives had been found on its outer body structure. It said a large wave that resulted from a "seismic shock" was responsible.

However, the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain said the cause of the incident remains unknown at this point, local media reports said.

Source: Xinhua


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