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A Turkish-flagged general cargo ship hit a mine on Thursday in the Black Sea off the coast of Romania and sustained minor damage but the crew was safe, maritime and security sources said. British maritime security company Ambrey, citing information it received, said the ship struck a sea mine 11 nautical miles north of Sulina in Romania, near the entrance to the Sulina Canal.

“The vessel reportedly experienced an explosion at approximately 0920 UTC (GMT). The vessel dropped anchor for a short period to assess the damage,” Ambrey said in a note.

“At 1210, the vessel resumed sailing,” Ambrey said adding that no casualties were reported.

It was one of the first incidents for some months involving a ship hitting a sea mine. The Black Sea area has been listed as a high risk zone by insurers and floating mines remain a peril.

A Ukrainian government source confirmed a vessel had struck a mine, adding it was “probably a World War II mine, or the landing mines that were left there last year”, declining further comment.

Yoruk Isik, head of the Bosphorus Observer consultancy, citing knowledge of the matter, told Reuters separately that the vessel was the Kafkametler and had sustained minor damage to a ballast tank but the crew was safe.

The vessel’s Istanbul-based operator, Kafkametler Maritime, could not be immediately reached for comment.

Kafkametler dropped anchor in the Danube channel close to the Ukrainian terminal of Vylkove, ship tracking on maritime analytics provider MarineTraffic showed at 2120 GMT on Thursday.

Russia pulled out of a U.N.-backed deal in July that had allowed Ukraine to ship grains through a safe shipping channel.

Since then, Ukraine has set up a temporary “humanitarian corridor” for cargo vessels, and several ships have left Ukrainian Black Sea ports since August.

Russia may use sea mines to target civilian shipping in the Black Sea, including by laying them on the approach to Ukrainian ports, the British government said on Wednesday citing intelligence.

Ambrey said on Thursday the incident occurred on the same day that the company “informed its clients of a likely additional sea mine deployment by the Russian navy conducted to frustrate Ukraine’s grain exports”.

 

(Reuters – Reporting by Jonathan Saul, Pavel Poltityuk; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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