Iranian destroyer accidentally sinks one of its own warships during military exercise, dozens feared dead
Several naval personnel were reported missing after an anti-ship missile hit the Dutch-made Konarak battleship which was overhauled two years ago
Dozens were feared dead after an Iranian destroyer accidentally fired at one of its own warships during a military drill in the Gulf of Oman on Sunday (May 10) evening. The warship reportedly sank in the tragedy and local reports said 40 naval personnel went missing.
Islamic Republic News Agency, Iran's official news agency, cited the public relations sources of the 1st Maritime District of Navy of Iranian Army in Bandar Abbas to say only one person was killed and many were injured.
It also said that the vessel at the receiving end is named Konarak and the incident happened within the waters of Jask Port in southern Iran. Iranian sources said the warship was accidentally hit by a C-802 Noor missile during the military exercises.
Al Jazeera reported that the friendly fire might have killed dozens of people. UK's ELINT News reported that the Iranian Jamaran frigate accidentally fired at Konarak with the anti-ship missile.
"The Jamaran is a Moudge-class frigate armed with 4 C-802 (Noor) anti-ship cruise missiles. This is likely what was launched," they wrote on Twitter.
Unconfirmed videos surfaced later showing injured sailors being evacuated from the frigate. Two injured soldiers were also seen being recovered by fishermen at sea in another video.
Warship too close to firing ships
Associated Press reported citing Iran's state television that the incident happened when Konarak was located too close to the target. It had been putting targets out of water for the ships to fire on.
The Iranian media said the ill-fated warship had been overhauled two years ago and could launch sea missiles, AP added. The Dutch-made vessel measuring 47 meters in length was in service since 1988 and had a capacity of 40 tonnes. Generally, the vessel carried a crew of 20 sailors.
Iran, which has a sour relation with Israel and the US, regularly holds exercises in the region located close to the strategic Strait of Hormuz through which the global oil trade takes place. The US Navy's 5th Fleet, which keeps a watch on the region, did not immediately react to the incident, AP added.
"Iranian media rarely report on mishaps during its exercises, signaling the severity of the incident," it said. The incident has happened at a time when Tehran's relation with President Donald Trump's America is terribly low.
The current president pulled the US out of the multi-party nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018 and imposed severe sanctions on the Middle Eastern power. In January, US drones killed top Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani in Iraq, sparking fears of an open conflict with Tehran.
It was in June last year that Iran faced a backlash following apparent attacks on two foreign tankers in the Gulf of Oman. The US military released video footage to show that Tehran was behind the attacks that happened on a Japanese and Norwegian tanker carrying petrochemicals to countries in Southeast Asia.
Though the video was inconclusive, the US used it to strengthen its claim that Iran is conducting attacks in the strategically important zone, especially after the US-imposed sanctions aimed to globally corner Tehran's oil trade.