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Explosion hits Singapore-flagged oil tanker in Saudi Arabia

Explosion hits Singapore-flagged oil tanker in Saudi Arabia

File photo. General view of the Saudi port city of Jeddah. (Photo: AFP/Khaled Desouki)

SINGAPORE: Shipping company Hafnia said on Monday (Dec 14) that one of its oil tankers, the BW Rhine, had been hit by an unidentified "external source" that caused an explosion and a fire while the ship was discharging at Jeddah port in Saudi Arabia.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) said on its website that investigations into an explosion involving a tanker were underway, and that Jeddah's port was closed for an unknown duration.

Saudi state media reported later that a fuel tanker that suffered an explosion off the western coast of Saudi Arabia was attacked by an explosives-laden boat, calling it a "terrorist" attack. 

"A fuel transport ship, anchored in the fuel terminal in Jeddah, was attacked by an explosive-laden boat in the early hours of this morning," the official Saudi Press Agency said, citing an energy ministry spokesman.

It did not say who was behind the assault.

"BW Rhine has been hit from an external source whilst discharging at Jeddah, Saudi Arabia at approximately 12.40am local time on Dec 14, 2020, causing an explosion and subsequent fire onboard," Hafnia said in a statement on its website earlier, adding it thought it possible that some oil had escaped. 

The ship's crew put out the fire and no one was injured, the company said, adding that parts of the ship's hull had been damaged.

The BW Rhine, owned and operated by Hafnia, is a Singapore-flagged tanker with capacity to carry 60,000 to 80,000 tonnes of light and middle distillate oil products, according to Hafnia and shipping data on Refinitiv.

The tanker loaded about 60,000 tonnes of gasoline from Yanbu port on Dec 6, the data showed. It is currently 84 per cent full, according to its draft.

Source: AGENCIES/lk

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