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Ecological ‘disaster’ looms as Houthi-sunk ship leaches fertiliser into Red Sea

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Water supplies for millions, a vibrant fishing industry and some of the world’s largest coral reefs are at risk after a cargo ship was sunk by Yemen’s rebels.

Warnings have been issued that the sinking of the Rubymar, which carried oil and 22,000 tons of fertiliser, could cause ecological damage to the Red Sea.

The British-owned cargo vessel that was attacked by Houthi militants last month sunk on Saturday, after taking on water for days.

It is the first vessel to be fully destroyed by the Yemeni rebel group, which has vowed to attack ships over Israel’s catastrophic war in Gaza.

At risk from the toxic substances on the ship are a bustling fishing industry, some of the world’s largest coral reefs and desalination plants supplying millions with drinking water.

Even before plunging to the ocean’s depths, the vessel was leaking heavy fuel that triggered a 30 km oil slick through the waterway, critical for Europe’s cargo and energy supplies.

In recent days, the US Central Command, which oversees the Middle East, has warned of an “environmental disaster” in the making.

Besides its hazardous cargo, this has much to do with the unique natural feature of the Red Sea, said Ian Ralby, founder of maritime security firm I.R. Consilium. The waterway has a circular water pattern, which operates essentially as a giant lagoon.

“What spills in the Red Sea, stays in the Red Sea,” said Ralby. “There are many ways it can be harmed.”

(euronews)

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