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“A strong risk for the environment”: the cargo ship sunk by the Houthis contained 21,000 tonnes of fertilizer

An environmental bomb? The cargo ship loaded with fertilizer that sank in the Gulf of Aden after being damaged by missiles from Yemen's Houthi rebels poses an environmental risk, the US military warned on Saturday.

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“A strong risk for the environment”: the cargo ship sunk by the Houthis contained 21,000 tonnes of fertilizer

An environmental bomb? The cargo ship loaded with fertilizer that sank in the Gulf of Aden after being damaged by missiles from Yemen's Houthi rebels poses an environmental risk, the US military warned on Saturday. The Houthis claimed responsibility for the February 19 attack on the Rubymar, a Belize-flagged merchant ship operated by a Lebanese company, which was carrying combustible fertilizer. Yemen's government said Saturday that the ship had sunk.

The United States Central Command (CENTCOM) confirmed late Saturday that the ship “sank in the Red Sea after being struck” by an anti-ship ballistic missile last month. “The approximately 21,000 tonnes of ammonium phosphate sulfate fertilizer that the ship was carrying pose an environmental risk in the Red Sea,” CENTCOM said in a statement. “By sinking, the vessel also poses a risk of subsurface impact to other vessels that use the waterway's busy shipping routes,” it added.

Container shipping across the Red Sea has fallen by almost a third this year due to continued attacks by Yemen's Houthi rebels, according to the International Monetary Fund. The Rubymar had left the United Arab Emirates and was heading to the Bulgarian port of Varna. Its crew had abandoned ship and was able to be evacuated to safety after being hit by two missiles.

Also read: Naval and air drones, missiles... The battle in the Red Sea continues between the Houthi rebels and the coalition

Several other organizations have also expressed concern about the environmental threat posed by the tanker. Satellite images shared by Maxar Technologies and published by AFP show fuel oil escaping from the ship. According to the TankerTrackers website, the sinking “would cause an environmental disaster in (Yemeni) territorial waters and in the Red Sea.” According to the maritime security agency UKMTO, led by the British navy, the attacked ship was 35 nautical miles (65 kilometers) from the Yemeni port of Mokha (southwest).

The Houthis have been carrying out attacks on ships in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden since November, saying they are acting in solidarity with the Palestinians in Gaza where Israel is waging a war against Hamas in retaliation for the unprecedented attack by the Palestinian movement. October 7 on Israeli soil. Faced with these attacks, the United States, Israel's main ally, set up a multinational force in December to “protect” maritime traffic in these strategic waters. Since January, sometimes with the help of the United Kingdom, they have launched numerous strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen, a country facing a war since 2014 pitting the government against the rebels supported by Iran.

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