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Tanker carrying more than 55,000 tonnes of gas oil off Irish coast re-routed over fears of cracks to its body

A TANKER carrying more than 55,000 tonnes of gas oil off the north west of Ireland has been re-routed to Belfast amid fears over cracks to its body.

The vessel, Genmar Companion, en route from Rotterdam to New York, was anchored 25 miles off Tory Island after calling for assistance.

The 228m tanker, with its cargo of Vacum Gas Oil, is expected in Belfast port tonight for inspections of the hull and where repairs are to be carried out.

The Irish Coast Guard said a crack had been spotted running along the deck during inspections in Rotterdam but it was deemed safe to put to sea.

Concerns were raised over potential weather conditions and the vessel, with a crew of 23 on board, is about 40 nautical miles north-west of Malin Head.

"Weather in the area is fine with force four winds and a 2m swell. Visibility is also reported to be good," the Irish Coast Guard said.

An Air Corps plane was sent to the scene to monitor developments and the naval vessel, the LE Niamh, is en route.

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