A torpedo may have been used in an attack on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

One of the vessels – MT Front Altair – is “on fire and adrift”, maritime intelligence firm Dryad Global said.

It is “suspected of being hit by a torpedo”, Taiwan’s state oil refiner, CPC Corp, said.

International Tanker Management, which operates the vessel, said an explosion caused a fire onboard.

It was carrying 75,000 tonnes of a liquid hydrocarbon mixture called naphtha when it was attacked at 5am UK time, CPC Corp added. The cargo’s value is estimated at $30m (23.7m).

Petrochemical division CEO, Wu I-Fang, said all 23 crew had been rescued.

The other tanker – Kokuka Courageous, which was carrying methanol – sustained damage to its starboard hull, its management said.

One crew member was slightly injured.

Iranian search and rescue teams picked up 44 sailors from the two tankers and took them to the Iranian port of Jask, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

Both vessels were carrying “Japan-related” cargo, Japan’s Trade Ministry said.

The US navy is providing assistance, saying it was “aware of the reported attack” and had received “two separate distress calls” earlier this morning.

United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations – part of the Royal Navy – said it was investigating.

All major Gulf stock markets dropped following the news.

This latest incident follows allegations from the US that Iran used mines to attack four oil tankers off the Emirati port of Fujairah last month.

Iran has denied being involved.

The Gulf of Oman lies at the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz – a major strategic waterway through which a fifth of global oil consumption passes after being produced in the Middle East.

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