Saudi Arabia says its coast guard has rescued a distressed Iranian oil tanker off the Red Sea port of Jeddah, raising concerns that the ship's cargo could be leaking.
Officials said early on May 2 that it had received an emergency call from the Happiness I vessel regarding "engine failure and the loss of control."
The location was described as 70 kilometers south of Jeddah in western Saudi Arabia.
Iranian officials said the incident occurred on April 30 while the Happiness I was on its way to the Suez Canal and that water had leaked into the tanker’s engine room, according to Iran’s official IRNA news agency.
Saudi state media reported that all 26 crew members, including 24 Iranians and two Bangladeshis, were safe and that all necessary precautions were being taken to avoid any environmental damage.
The reports did not specify the crew members’ current location and did not elaborate on whether oil had spilled from the tanker.
But the state-run National Iranian Tanker Co. said there had been no leak of the ship's contents into the Red Sea, according to the Iranian Oil Ministry's news agency SHANA.
The TankerTrackers monitoring group estimated the vessel is carrying up to 1.22 million barrels of crude oil.
It said the ship had been traveling with a sister ship, the Sabiti, and that the Happiness I crew may have been transferred to that vessel.
Late on the morning of May 2, the website MarineTraffic.com, which tracks vessels at sea, located the Happiness I about 40 kilometers off the port of Jeddah.
Saudi Arabia, a mainly Sunni Muslim nation, and Shi’ite-led Iran are bitter rivals in the region. Diplomatic relations between the two countries were broken off in 2016.
With reporting by AP, Reuters, and The Arab News