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Damaged tanker ‘safe’ in Sharjah anchorage

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A file image shows the Kokuka Courageous, which was carrying highly flammable methanol out of the Gulf towards Asia when it was attacked Thursday. AFP

Damaged tanker ‘safe’ in Sharjah anchorage

A Japanese tanker, attacked in the Gulf in an incident that sparked a new standoff between Washington and Tehran, “arrived safely” on Sunday at an anchorage off the UAE, its management said.

The Kokuka Courageous was carrying highly flammable methanol through the Gulf of Oman on Thursday when it and the Norwegian-operated Front Altair were rocked by explosions.

“Kokuka Courageous has arrived safely at the designated anchorage at Sharjah”, an emirate neighbouring Dubai, the vessel’s Singapore-based BSM Ship Management said in a statement on Sunday.

The crew, who remained on board, were “safe and well”, it said, adding that a damage assessment and preparations for transferring the ship’s cargo would start “once the port authorities have completed their standard security checks and formalities.”

BSM Ship Management had said earlier tha Kokuka Courageous was heading towards an anchorage on the eastern coast of the UAE.

The other ship, the Front Altair, has left Iran’s territorial waters, multiple sources said on Saturday.

It was “heading toward the Fujairah-Khor Fakkan area in the UAE”, the ports chief of Iran’s southern province of Hormozgan told the semi-official news agency Isna.

A spokeswoman for Frontline Management, the Norwegian company which owns the ship, said “all 23 crew members of the tanker departed Iran” and flew to Dubai on Saturday.

The US military on Friday released grainy footage it said showed an Iranian patrol boat removing an “unexploded limpet mine” from the Japanese vessel.

Tehran has vehemently denied any involvement.

Iran has repeatedly warned in the past that it could block the strategic Hormuz Strait in a relatively low-tech, high-impact countermeasure to any attack by the US.

Doing so would disrupt oil tankers travelling out of the Gulf region to the Indian Ocean.

Meanwhile, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman accused arch-rival Iran of being responsible for the attacks, adding he “won’t hesitate” to tackle any threats to the kingdom, according to an interview published on Sunday.

“We do not want a war in the region … But we won’t hesitate to deal with any threat to our people, our sovereignty, our territorial integrity and our vital interests,” Prince Mohammed told pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, in his first public comments since the attacks.

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