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Tanker Explosion Investigation Underway in Japan

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Published on Aug 18, 2010

Japan seeks to clarify the cause of the oil tanker explosion in the Straits of Hormuz last month. There are concerns that it was a deliberate terrorist attack.

On Tuesday, Japan's transport minister opened an investigation into the cause of an explosion that damaged an oil tanker near the Strait of Hormuz last month.

The explosion injured one seaman on board the large crude oil carrier M.Star but there was no oil spill or disruption to shipping.

Japan fears a possible terrorist attack on its vital oil supply lines.

[Seiji Maehara, Transport Minister, Japan]:




"It's appalling that such an incident can happen there, where over 80 percent of tankers carrying oil to Japan pass through."

The damaged tanker's radar showed a small ship making suspicious movements near it at the time of the incident.

That ship then left the area at high speed immediately after the explosion.

Japan's transport ministry will try to find out if the small ship launched an attack.

[Seiji Maehara, Transport Minister, Japan]:
"There has been a lot of information, including rumors on what exactly happened, but here we will investigate what really happened and learn how to avoid such incidents in the future."

On August 4th, a militant group linked to al Qaeda claimed that a suicide bomber of theirs attacked the tanker.

Security analysts were skeptical of the group's claim, though the United Arab Emirates state news agency said investigators had found traces of explosives on the tanker.

The M.Star sustained damage to its hull but was able to resume its voyage to Japan after repairs at a nearby port.

The tanker, operated by Mitsui O.S.K, was carrying more than two million barrels of crude oil... about half of Japan's daily oil needs.

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