French tanker explodes off Yemen; Diplomat speaks about possible ''terrorist act'', Yemen officials deny
A French tanker caught fire on Sunday after some of the crude oil it was carrying leaked, Yemeni officials said. They added that the incident was not considered a terrorist act.
However, the French media reported it was a terrorist attack. A diplomat at the French embassy told AFP nit was believed to be a terrorist attack. "The oil tanker was rammed by a small boat stuffed with explosives," the French Vice-Consul, Marcel Goncalves, said. Later he told Reuters "It is too soon to say anything. So far, there are many contradictory reports. It could be that a small ship with explosives collided with the tanker. Maybe something happened, it is too early."
There were no immediate reports on casualties or damage to the tanker, which was coming into the port of Mina al-Dabah off the Arabian Sea, the officials said.
According to The Associated Press, security officials said firefighters were trying to put out the blaze and an investigation was launched into the matter.
Fire raged on a French oil tanker off the coast of Yemen on Sunday after its hold leaked crude and exploded, Yemeni government officials said.
The officials identified the tanker as the Limburg and said the coastguard had so far rescued 11 of its 25-member crew.
"The situation is serious," one official told Reuters. "We are trying our best to put out the fire but the flames keep on reigniting because of the presence of the crude."
A Yemeni oil industry source said the ship was carrying 397,000 barrels of crude and that it was coming into port from Iran to load on more oil. A large amount of the crude had already leaked into the sea, he added.
In the year 2000, an explosion nearly destroyed the USS Cole while it was at a refueling stop at Aden port. The blast killed 17 American sailors and was blamed on Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda terror network. Since then, security has been tightened at Yemeni ports.
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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