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19 dead as Iran warship hit by friendly fire during naval drills

May 12, 2020

TEHRAN: An Iranian warship was hit by a "friendly fire" missile during naval exercises, killing 19 sailors, state media and the army said Monday, amid tensions with the US in Gulf waters.

The Konarak was struck on Sunday afternoon near Bandar-e Jask, off the southern coast of the Islamic republic, state television's website said. "The vessel was hit after moving a practice target to its destination and not creating enough distance between itself and the target," it said.

Nineteen crewmen were killed and 15 injured in an "accident" during the exercises, the armed forces said, without elaborating. The vessel had been towed ashore for "technical investigations", the military said in a statement, calling on people to "avoid speculation" until further information is released.

Tasnim news agency said in an English-language tweet that the missile was fired by another Iranian warship. The Konarak had been hit by “friendly fire” after Moudge-class frigate “Jamaran” accidentally shot (it) with a missile during live firing exercise in Jask area of #PersianGulf waters".

The 15 injured were hospitalised in Sistan and Balochistan, said Mohammad-Mehran Aminifard, head of the province's medical university. Two of the sailors were in intensive care, he told the semi-official news agency ISNA.

A video released by Jam-e-Jam daily showed what it said was the Konarak partly under water and smouldering as it was being towed by a boat. Iran's army chief and foreign minister offered their condolences to the sailors' families in separate statements.