Udayavni Special

Iran strikes its own naval ship during excercise; 19 sailors killed


PTI, May 11, 2020, 2:48 PM IST

Tehran: An Iranian missile fired during a training exercise in the Gulf of Oman struck a support vessel near its target, killing 19 sailors and wounding 15 others, Iranian media reported Monday, amid heightened tensions between Tehran and the US.

The friendly fire incident happened on Sunday near the port of Jask, some 1,270 kilometres (790 miles) southeast of Tehran, in the Gulf of Oman, state TV said.

The missile struck the Konarak, a Hendijan-class support ship, taking part in the exercise.

State television described the missile strike as an accident, saying the Konarak had remained too close to the target. The Konarak had been putting targets out in the water for other ships to fire upon, it said.

A local hospital admitted 12 sailors and treated another three with slight wounds, the state-run IRNA news agency reported.

Iranian media said the Konarak had been overhauled in 2018 and was able to launch sea and anti-ship missiles. The Dutch-made, 47-meter (155-foot) vessel was in service since 1988 and had a capacity of 40 tons. It usually carries a crew of 20 sailors.

Iran regularly holds exercises in the region, which is closed to the strategic Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which 20% of the world’s oil passes.

The U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, which monitors the region, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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