Crew ‘in lifeboats’ as oil tanker catches fire after Houthi missile attack

World

An oil tanker is on fire in the Red Sea after a missile attack by Houthi fighters.

In a statement, the ship’s owner Trafigura, which has offices in Britain, said firefighting equipment on board was being deployed to control the flames and the safety of the crew is its “foremost priority”.

A spokesperson for the commodities giant said: “Earlier on 26 January, the Marlin Luanda, a petroleum products tanker vessel operated on behalf of Trafigura, was struck by a missile as it transited the Red Sea.

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“Firefighting equipment on board is being deployed to suppress and control the fire caused in one cargo tank on the starboard side.

“The safety of the crew is our foremost priority.

“We remain in contact with the vessel and are monitoring the situation carefully. Military ships in the region are underway to provide assistance.”

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UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) reported an incident 60 nautical miles southeast of Aden in Yemen.

A statement from Brigadier General Yahya Saree said: “In vindication of the oppressed Palestinian people and in support and solidarity with our brothers in the Gaza Strip, and within the response to the American-British aggression against our country, Yemeni naval forces carried out a targeting operation on the British oil ship (Marlin Luanda) In the Gulf of Aden.

“Using a number of appropriate naval missiles, the strike was direct, and resulted the burning of the vessel.

“Yemeni Armed Forces persist with their military operations: enforcing a blockade on Israeli navigation in the Red and Arabian seas until a ceasefire is achieved in Gaza, and food and medicine are allowed in to the besieged Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip.”

Shipping data suggests the vessel sails under the flag of the Marshall Islands.

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

The Houthis have repeatedly launched attacks on ships in the Red Sea since November over Israel’s war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

But they have frequently targeted vessels with tenuous or no clear links to Israel, endangering shipping on a key route for global trade.

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Alongside numerous air strikes on key Houthi targets, the UK and US are also targeting key figures in the Iran-backed militant group with sanctions.

A second series of UK and US airstrikes, carried out at the start of the week, appears to have done little to deter Houthi action.

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