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URGENT: Explosion hits tanker off Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah

A shipping firm says an explosion has hit a fuel tanker off Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah, a key Red Sea port and distribution center for oil giant Saudi Aramco.

The BW Group said in a statement that the ship suffered a blast early Monday after being hit by “an external source”.

According to the report, the Singapore-flagged BW Rhine saw all 22 sailors on board escape without injury.

The firm warned it was possible some oil had leaked out from the site of the incident.

Dryad Global, a London-based maritime intelligence firm, also reported the explosion.

The United Kingdom Marine Trade Operations, which is linked to the British navy, called on ships in the area to “exercise extreme caution.”

No one immediately elaborated on the cause. The Saudi authorities have yet to confirm the blast.

Last month, an explosion rocked a Greek-operated oil tanker docked at Saudi Arabia’s southern port of Shuqaiq. The Riyadh-led military coalition blamed the attack on Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement, which has not commented on the incident.

This week’s blast comes as Yemeni forces have been conducting retaliatory attacks against Saudi Arabia over the kingdom’s bloody military campaign against their impoverished nation.

Last month, the spokesman for Yemen’s Armed Forces, Brigadier General Yahya Saree, said that a distribution station operated by the Saudi Aramco oil company in Jeddah had been targeted by the Quds-2 winged missile with high precision.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched their devastating war on Yemen in March 2015 in order to bring former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, back to power and crush the Ansarullah movement.

The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the war has claimed more than 100,000 lives over the past five years.

Riyadh and its allies have widely been criticized for the high civilian death toll as a result of their bombing campaign in Yemen.

The UN says more than 24 million Yemenis are in dire need of humanitarian aid, including 10 million suffering from extreme levels of hunger. The world body also refers to the situation in Yemen as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

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