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How magnetic mines disrupted oil tankers in Strait of Hormuz

This is the second time in the past few weeks that tankers appear to have been attacked in the Gulf of Oman region. This comes amid escalating tension between Iran and the United States. 

Oil tanker on fire at the Strait of Hormoz

Two tankers were damaged by explosions just outside the Strait of Hormoz, a strategic waterway crucial to global energy supplies. 

The Panama-listed Kokuka Courageous and the Marshall Islands-flagged Front Altair were both sailing south-eastwards through international waters, after passing through the Strait of Hormuz, when they were rocked by explosions.

(Photograph:Reuters)

Strait of Hormuz

The Strait of Hormuz is one of the most strategic waterways in the world as it links the middle east's oil producers to the rest of the world.

The strait separates the GCC nations from Iran. Around a sixth of the world’s oil moves through the Strait - 17.2 million barrels per day, according to an Aljazeera report. 

(The tankers Front Altair and Kokuka Courageous movements are shown in this still image taken from an animation) 

(Photograph:Reuters)

Iran had earlier cautioned to disrupt oil shipments

The narrowest point in the strait is just 33km wide, the shipping lanes in both directions are only 3km wide. 

OPEC members Saudi Arabia, Iran, the UAE, Kuwait and Iraq export most of their crude via the Strait. 

Iran had earlier cautioned to disrupt oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz if the United States tried to strangle its economy.

(Photograph:AFP)

Iran's Revolutionary Guard removing an unexploded limpet mine, alleges US

A still image taken from a US military handout video purports to show Iran's Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) removing an unexploded limpet mine from the side of the Kokuka Courageous Tanker.

Almost 50 sailors had to be rescued from the stricken tankers in the Gulf. 

The Kokuka Courageous was reportedly carrying about 25,000 tonnes of methanol from Saudi Arabia to Singapore.

(Photograph:Reuters)

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blames Iran for attacks

A picture released by US Central Command shows damage from an explosion and a likely limpet mine, on the hull of the civilian vessel M/V Kokuka Courageous.

The Panama-flagged Kokuka Courageous is believed to have been targeted by a magnetic mine.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blames Iran for attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. The United States Fifth Fleet, based in Manama, Bahrain, is responsible for protecting maritime shipping lanes. 

(Photograph:Reuters)

Crew members receiving medical attention

Almost 50 sailors had to be rescued from the stricken tankers in the Gulf. 

The Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous with 23 crew members aboard and Norway's Front Altair with 23 people were abandoned after the blasts.

Iran and the US Navy said 29 crew members from the Kokuka Courageous were taken on board the USS Bainbridge.

(Photograph:Reuters)

'Maximum restraint'

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said he strongly condemned any attack against civilian vessels and warned that the world could not afford "a major confrontation in the Gulf region".

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini called for "maximum restraint".

The acting US permanent representative to the UN, Jonathan Cohen, said it was "unacceptable for any party to attack commercial shipping" and that Thursday's incidents "raise serious concerns".

(Photograph:Reuters)