Environmental Disaster Feared After British Ship Hauling Tons Of Fertilizer Struck By Houthis, Sinks Into Sea

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Kate Anderson Contributor
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A British cargo ship carrying fertilizer sunk on Friday after being attacked by Houthi rebels off the coast of Yemen, possibly creating an environmental disaster in the area, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The Rubymar was attacked on Feb. 18 by a Houthi anti-ship missile but remained afloat for days, allowing the 24-person crew to be rescued by British authorities, according to the WSJ. The ship finally sank with 22,000 metric tons of fertilizer originally headed for Bulgaria, raising concerns about the impact on the marine life in the Red Sea and surrounding areas. (RELATED: Houthis Hit Ship Carrying Aid To Yemen, US Military Says)

Attempts to clean up the affected area will likely prove difficult as the Houthis continue to target ships, according to the WSJ.

“There won’t be anyone to help under missile threat,” Ami Daniel, chief executive of the maritime artificial intelligence provider Windward, told the WSJ.

Ahmed Awad Bin Mubarak, the prime minister of Yemen’s internationally recognized government, said the sinking was “an unprecedented environmental disaster” and Greenpeace, an international environmentalist group, claimed that the ammonium nitrate in the fertilizer may have “significant impacts on marine ecosystems,” according to the BBC.

Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, one of the leaders of the Houthis, posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Friday, blaming the U.K. for not acquiescing to their demands to bring aid to Gaza in exchange for being able to tow the ship out.

“We reiterate the offer is valid to tow the ship in exchange for bringing in relief trucks for the besieged … We hold Britain responsible for all results,” Ali al-Houthi wrote.

The ship is the first to be sunk since the Iran-backed Houthis began their blockade of the Red Sea in November, according to the BBC. The militants have attacked over 60 vessels since their campaign began and most recently hit a U.S.-flagged ship bound for Yemen with humanitarian aid in late February but failed to inflict major damage.

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