World

Iranian warship hit by missile in training accident, killing 19 sailors

The Iranian army says a missile strike on a naval vessel taking part in an exercise in the Gulf of Oman has killed 19 sailors and wounded 15.

The friendly fire incident happened on Sunday near the port of Jask, in the Gulf of Oman

A missile is fired from an Iranian warship during a war game by the Iranian army near Jask port in southern Iran on Monday. The Iranian army said a missile strike on a naval vessel taking part in an exercise in the Gulf of Oman on Sunday killed 19 sailors and wounded 15. (Hossein Zohrevand/Fars News/Reuters)

The Iranian army says a missile strike on a naval vessel taking part in an exercise in the Gulf of Oman has killed 19 sailors and wounded 15.

The statement issued Monday drastically raised the death toll in the Sunday incident.

Earlier Iranian state media reports said the Konarak, a Hendijan-class support ship, was too close to a target during an exercise on Sunday. The vessel had been putting targets out for other ships to aim for. It said the missile struck the vessel accidentally.

The friendly fire incident happened near the port of Jask, some 1,270 kilometres southeast of Tehran, in the Gulf of Oman, state TV said.

State television described the missile strike as an accident, saying the Konarak had remained too close to the target.

A local hospital admitted 12 sailors and treated another three with slight wounds, the state-run IRNA 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, 47-metre vessel was in service since 1988 and had capacity of 40 tons. It usually carries a crew of 20 sailors.

Iran regularly holds exercises in the region, which is close to the strategic Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which 20 per cent of the world's oil passes. The U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, which monitors the region, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Iranian media rarely report on mishaps during its exercises, signalling the severity of the incident. This incident also comes amid months of heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S. since President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers in 2018 and imposed crushing sanctions on the country.

now