Fire breaks out on tanker near Syrian coast


Firefighters try to put out a fire in main Homs refinery, Syria, in this handout picture released on May 9, 2021. SANA/Handout via REUTERS

AMMAN/CAIRO (Reuters) - A small fire occurred in one of the engines of a tanker off the coast of Syria's Mediterranean port of Banias, state media said.

The fire was extinguished by the crew quickly with no casualties, it said.

"The technical fault took place in one of the engines of the oil tanker near the coast...it caused a small fire and a plume of smoke," state media said.

Local radio station FM Sham earlier said an explosion had hit a tanker during maintenance works after it had caught fire a few days earlier while offloading its oil cargo.

Last month, Syria's oil ministry said firefighters put out a fire on an oil tanker off the Banias refinery after a suspected attack by a drone coming from the direction of Lebanese waters.

Banias houses a refinery which, along with another in Homs, covers a significant part of the country's demand for diesel, heating fuel, gasoline and other petroleum products, according to industry experts.

Syria has grown more dependent on Iranian oil shipments in recent years but tightening Western sanctions on Iran, Syria and their allies, as well as a foreign currency crunch, have made it more difficult to get enough supplies.

(Reporting by Maha al Dahan, Nadine Awadallah, Writing by Suleiman al Khalidi, Editing by Toby Chopra)

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