An Iranian missile fired during a training exercise in the Gulf of Oman struck a support vessel near its target, killing 19 Iranian sailors and wounding 15, Iran’s military and state media said yesterday, amid heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington.
The statement significantly raised the death toll in Sunday’s incident from what was reported just hours earlier, when Iran’s state media said at least one sailor was killed.
The Konarak , a Hendijan-class support ship that was taking part in the exercise, was too close to a target during an exercise on Sunday when the incident happened, the reports said.
The vessel had been deploying items for other ships to target. The media said the missile struck the vessel accidentally.
The friendly fire incident took place near the port of Jask, about 1,270km southeast of Tehran, state TV said.
A local hospital admitted 12 sailors and treated another three with slight wounds, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
Iranian media said the Konarak had been overhauled in 2018, and was able to launch sea and anti-ship missiles. The Dutch-made, 47m vessel has been in service since 1988 and usually carries a crew of 20 sailors.
Iran towed the Konarak into a nearby naval base after the strike. A photograph released by the Iranian army showed burn marks and some damage to the vessel, although the military did not immediately offer detailed photographs of the site of the missile’s impact.
Iran regularly holds exercises in the region, which is close to the strategic Strait of Hormuz through which 20 percent of the world’s oil passes.
The US Navy’s 5th Fleet, which monitors the region, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Iranian media rarely report on mishaps during exercises by the nation’s armed forces, signaling the severity of the incident.
It marks the second serious incident involving a misfired missile by Iran’s armed forces this year.
In January, after attacking US forces in Iraq with ballistic missiles, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard accidentally shot down a Ukrainian jetliner, killing all 176 people on board.
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