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Yemen warns British cargo ship may sink following Houthi attack

February 29, 2024 at 11:26 am

A view a cargo ship at sea port of Hudaydah, Yemen on July 15, 2023 [Mohammed Hamoud/Anadolu Agency]

A British container ship is in danger of sinking off Yemen’s western coast after being hit by Houthi missiles earlier this month, a Yemeni official warned on Wednesday, Anadolu Agency reported.

On 18 February, the Houthi group announced targeting the cargo ship Rubymar in the Gulf of Aden with several naval missiles, causing severe damage.

Due to strong winds and waves, the ship veered from the Gulf of Aden to off the coast of Mokha overlooking the southern Red Sea, near the Bab El-Mandeb Strait, said the official.

In a statement to Anadolu Agency, Al-Hudaydah Governor Al-Hassan Taher explained that the British ship Rubymar veered 16 miles (25.7 kilometres) from the western coast opposite the city of Mokha after being pushed by strong winds and waves, warning of its sinking.

After visiting the ship’s location on Tuesday accompanied by environmental officials and specialists, Taher confirmed the ship: “Is in a tragic situation and is on the verge of sinking after water leaked into the engine room, which will lead to a major environmental disaster if it sinks.”

He warned: “If this is not avoided, the ship will inevitably sink, leading to an environmental catastrophe for marine life and the residents of Al-Hudaydah province in general, as more than 90 per cent of the population rely on fishing for their livelihood.”

Taher pointed out that the government is taking measures with the relevant authorities to safely pull the ship out of Yemen’s regional waters.

The Rubymar was targeted by the Houthis while carrying large quantities of ammonia and oil, according to the official Yemeni Saba News Agency.

Earlier on Wednesday, the British Embassy in Yemen posted on X: “The Houthis are threatening another environmental disaster with the reckless attack on the MV Rubymar. The vessel is now at risk of leaking into the Red Sea. We call on the Houthis to stop their attacks.”

In solidarity with Gaza, which is facing a devastating Israeli war with US support, the Houthis have targeted Israeli cargo ships or those affiliated with them in the Red Sea with missiles and drones, vowing to continue their operations until the end of the war.

After airstrikes by the US and UK on Houthi targets in Yemen and tensions taking a notable escalatory turn in January, the Houthis announced that they consider all US and British ships military targets.

READ: British cargo ship sustains minor damage near Yemen