'Yemen's abandoned 1976-model super tanker carrying gallons of oil likely to sink or explode at any time': UN


Sana’a: A Yemeni super tanker that was reportedly let off in the sea almost eight years ago with more than a million barrels of oil on board is “likely to sink or explode at any moment,” causing a humanitarian and environmental catastrophe, a UN official has warned.

The FSO safer tank was practically abandoned in 2015 as the country descended into civil war, and now the ship is breaking apart, the UN official said.

David Gressly, the UN’s Yemen humanitarian chief, said: “We don’t want the Red Sea to turn into the Black Sea; that’s what will happen.

It’s an old ship, a 1976 super tanker from that period, so it’s not only old but neglected and could blow up or sink at any time.

“It’s a certainty, according to those who are familiar with the ship, including the former captain of the ship,” he said.

“One million barrels of oil will ultimately spill into the Red Sea; therefore, it is crucial that we act as soon as we can. It is not a question of ‘if,’ it is only a question of ‘when,” the official added while asking the authorities to at least discuss the issue.

Recent modelling by the scientific journal Nature Sustainability indicates that it would take an oil spill two to three weeks to travel all the way down to Djibouti, across to Eritrea, and up to Saudi Arabia.

It would abruptly stop the food aid on which nearly six million people depend due to the closing of Yemen’s vital Red Sea ports of Hudayah and Salif.

Since eight million people in Yemen depend on gasoline-powered pumps or trucks to transport their fresh water, the majority of fuel imports would also cease to exist, reports say.

Around two million people live further up Yemen’s shore and depend on desalination plants for their water; however, the oil spill would also contaminate these facilities, forcing them to shut down.

The environmental consequences would be severe, destroying or harming protected coastal mangrove forests and healthy coral reefs.

According to Nature Sustainability, an unchecked oil spill could kill nearly all of Yemen’s Red Sea fishing stock in three weeks, upsetting the lives of millions of people living in coastal towns who depend on the ocean for their food and means of subsistence.

The oil tanker is regrettably situated close to a very, very healthy coral reef and clean habitat, and it has a lot of kinds of marine organisms, according to Dr. Hisham Nagi, professor of environmental science at Yemen’s Sana’a University.

Because of the area’s high biodiversity, “so many marine sensitive habitats are going to be damaged, severely damaged as a result of the oil spill,”

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'Yemen's abandoned 1976-model super tanker carrying gallons of oil likely to sink or explode at any time': UN
'Yemen's abandoned 1976-model super tanker carrying gallons of oil likely to sink or explode at any time': UN
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