19 sailors dead after Iran accidentally fires missile on own ship

Iranian state media report 19 sailors are dead and 15 wounded after a friendly fire incident in the Gulf of Oman.

al-monitor Iranian navy stand on the Kharg ship at Tanjung Priok port in Jakarta, Indonesia on Feb. 27, 2020.  Photo by Anton Raharjo/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.

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iranian military, missiles, navy, training, strait of hormuz

May 11, 2020

At least 19 Iranian sailors are dead and 15 injured after an accidental missile firing during a planned naval exercise in the Gulf of Oman, Iran’s state-run news agency reports.

The Iranian press said the Hendijan-class Konarak was struck on Sunday afternoon during a drill near the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world’s most strategically important waterways. 

According to state TV, an Iranian navy frigate accidentally fired at the support ship near the port of Jask, killing 19 people. Other early reports put the death toll near 40. 

“Naval relief and rescue teams reached the location shortly after the incident, retrieving the injured and the martyrs from the vessel and transferring them to medical centers,” read a navy statement carried by state TV.  

Iranian officials provided few details on the extent of the damage. Despite some reports the vessel had sunk, the army-affiliated Tasnim News Agency posted a video Monday appearing to show the fiery aftermath of a still-floating ship.

The navy said that the ship was pulled ashore and an investigation is underway. 

The US Navy announced last month that 11 Iranian vessels had harassed American ships at a dangerously close range in international waters. Shortly after, President Donald Trump tweeted that he had instructed the US Navy to “shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats” that threatened US ships in the Gulf. 

Sundays’ friendly fire incident marks the Iranian military’s second accidental missile strike this year. In January, the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps blamed “human error” and admitted it unintentionally shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane, killing all 176 people on board. 

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