US military says cargo ship sunk by Houthi attack poses environmental risk

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A cargo ship carrying fertilizer that was damaged by a missile from Yemen’s Houthi rebels and sunk in the Gulf of Aden poses an environmental risk, the US military warned on Saturday.

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The Houthis claimed a Feb. 18 attack on the Belizean-flagged cargo ship Rubimar, operated by a Lebanese company, which was transporting flammable fertilizer.

U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) confirmed late Saturday that the ship was “hit by an anti-ship ballistic missile and sank in the Red Sea” last month.

“The approximately 21,000 tonnes of ammonium phosphate sulfate fertilizer the ship was carrying poses an environmental risk to the Red Sea,” Centcom said in a statement.

“If the ship sinks, it also risks impacting other ships passing through the waterway’s busy routes below the surface,” it added.

Yemen’s government also announced early Saturday that the ship had sunk.

Container traffic through the Red Sea fell by about a third in the first week of 2024 compared to the same period a year earlier, as Houthi attacks forced shipping companies to bypass the Suez Canal, according to the International Monetary Fund.

The ship left the United Arab Emirates and was headed to the Bulgarian port of Varna.

The crew, who were hit by two missiles, abandoned ship and evacuated to a safe location.

Several other organizations have also expressed concern about the environmental threat posed by tankers.

Satellite images shared by Maxar Technologies and published by AFP showed fuel oil appearing to be leaking from the vessel.

The Tanker Trackers website said the sinking would “cause an environmental catastrophe in (Yemeni’s) territorial waters and the Red Sea.”

Since November, the Houthis have claimed to be acting in solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and have carried out attacks on Israeli-linked vessels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

Israel has been at war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip since Palestinian militants launched an unprecedented attack on Israel on October 7.

In response to the Houthi offensive, Israel’s main ally, the United States, established a multinational force in December to protect maritime traffic in the strategic waterway.

Since January, the United States and its allies have launched numerous attacks against Houthi targets in Yemen, where Iranian-backed rebels have been in control since 2014 of the internationally recognized government. He has fought against forces loyal to the

(AFP)


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