A tanker is on fire off the coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), according to maritime observers. The coastguard of the Emirates is providing assistance, reported local media.

The U.S. Navy operating in the region says there is an incident being investigated. The Maritime Executive reports, however, that ‘officials understand the fire likely began during routine maintenance.’ Investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing.

It is said to be a ship about 21 miles from Dubai, between the coast of the Emirates and the Iranian island of Abu Musa. It would possibly be the very large cruse carrier (VLCC) Zoya 1, which has been there for some time due to conflicts over who owns the ship. According to media in the Emirates it is the third fire on board a ship in the UAE since 17 January.

Tensions in the area

There are tensions in the waters between the Arabian Peninsula and Iran as a result of the hostility between Saudi Arabia and Iran in particular and between the US and Iran. The Netherlands is sending a naval vessel to a French-led European security mission in the street of Hormuz.

Update 2 February:

The Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has reported that there were twelve crew and 44 technical staff on board. Gulf News has said four have been found dead. Two on Friday and another two on Sunday (2 February). One crew member is still missing and eight were injured. Prior to the fire it is understood that there was an explosion. Gulf News has also revealed the tanker was empty at the time of the fire and is presently sailing under the name of SAM, Palau-flagged, and was preparing for its final voyage to a scrapyard in India for dismantling.

Source: ANP (with additions from The Maritime Executive as indicated)