Was a Japanese tanker attacked in the Strait of Hormuz?

Via the Voice of America:

Japanese officials are trying to determine what caused an explosion on an oil tanker as it passed through the Strait of Hormuz.

Japan’s transport ministry said Wednesday that the M. Star was carrying about two million barrels of crude oil from the United Arab Emirates to the Japanese port of Chiba when it was rocked by an explosion.

The United States Navy’s Fifth Fleet, based in the Gulf state of Bahrain, said Wednesday the cause of the blast was unknown.

But the ship’s owner claimed the explosion was likely the result of an attack. Crew members on the tanker said one person on board saw a flash of light on the horizon just before the explosion.

Japan’s Mitsui O.S.K. Lines said the explosion blasted a lifeboat off the ship and damaged some of the starboard hatches.  It said one crew member suffered minor injuries, and that the tanker is on its way to the port of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates to check for damage.

Despite the blast, the company said the ship’s tanks did not rupture and that no oil is leaking.

Iran has weighed in:

The Managing Director of Iranian Navigation and Ports Organization on Wednesday rules out the possibility of terrorist attack on a Japanese tanker in Persian Gulf, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported.

“Probably the earthquake has caused such an incident,” Ataollah Sadr was quoted as saying.

Talking to Mehr about the blast in Japanese oil tanker, Sadr rejected the possibility of any terrorist attack on the tanker, saying “due to the presence of some inflammable steams and gases on the oil tankers, the possibility of blast cannot be ruled out.”

“Based on the dialogues and messages heard from Maritime Rescue Coordination Center (MRCC), there has been news about the quake occurrence,” Sadr said, referring to the Japanese oil tanker M. Star blasted near the Strait of Hormuz on Wednesday, leaving one person slightly injured.

An earthquake… has caused an explosion… on an oil tanker.

Nothing to see here folks… move along.

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