Ship sunk by Houthis poses environmental risk: US military

A ship attacked by Yemen's Houthi rebels has sunk in the Red Sea after days of taking on water, officials have said, the first vessel to be fully destroyed as part of their campaign over Israel's war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The fertilizer-laden cargo ship, which sank in the Gulf of Aden after it was damaged by missiles from Yemen's Hothi rebels, poses an environmental risk, the U.S. military also warned.

The Houthis claimed the Feb. 18 attack against the Rubymar, a cargo ship flying a Belizean flag and operated by a Lebanese firm, which transported combustible fertilizers.

"The approximately 21,000 metric tons of ammonium phosphate sulfate fertilizer that the vessel was carrying presents an environmental risk in the Red Sea," CENTCOM said in a statement.

"As the ship sinks it also presents a subsurface impact risk to other ships transiting the busy shipping lanes of the waterway," it added.

Fuel oil appeared to be leaking from the vessel in satellite images shared by Maxar Technologies and published by AFP.

The TankerTrackers website said the sinking would "cause an environmental catastrophe in the [Yemeni] territorial waters and in the Red Sea."

Container shipping through the Red Sea dropped by around one-third in the first week of 2024 compared with the same period last year as Hothi attacks caused shipping companies to avoid the Suez Canal, according to the International Monetary Fund.

The vessel had departed the United Arab Emirates and was bound for the Bulgarian port of Varna.

Its crew abandoned the ship and evacuated to safety after it was hit by two missiles.

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