UK cargo ship sinks in Red Sea after Houthi missile attack

The Rubymar is believed to be loaded with potentially explosive fertiliser, which could pose health and environmental risks

A UK-registered cargo ship attacked in a Houthi missile strike has sunk in the Red Sea after taking on water for several days.

It is the first vessel to be fully destroyed as part of their campaign over Israel's war against Hamas in Gaza.

The Rubymar is believed to be loaded with potentially explosive fertiliser, which could pose health and environmental risks.

The sinking of the cargo ship comes as shipping through the crucial waterway for cargo and energy shipments moving from Asia and the Middle East to Europe has been affected by the Houthi attacks.

Already, many ships have turned away from the route.

The sinking could see further detours and higher insurance rates put on vessels plying the waterway - potentially driving up global inflation and affecting aid shipments to the region.

The Belize-flagged Rubymar had been drifting northward after being struck by a Houthi anti-ship ballistic missile on February 18.

Yemen's internationally recognised government, as well as a regional military official, confirmed the ship sank.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity as no authorisation was given to speak to journalists about the incident.

The UK's Maritime Trade Operations centre, which watches over Mideast waterways, separately acknowledged the Rubymar's sinking.

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Ahmed Awad Bin Mubarak, the prime minister of Yemen's internationally recognised government, called the ship's sinking “an unprecedented environmental disaster.”

“It’s a new disaster for our country and our people,” he wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “Every day, we pay for the Houthi militia’s adventures, which were not stopped at plunging Yemen into the coup disaster and war.”

Since November, the Houthis have repeatedly targeted ships in the Red Sea and surrounding waters over the Israel-Hamas war.

Those vessels have included at least one with cargo bound for Iran, the Houthis’ main benefactor, and an aid ship later bound for Houthi-controlled territory.

Despite over a month of US-led airstrikes, Houthis remain capable of launching significant attacks.

That includes the attack on the Rubymar and the downing of an American drone worth tens of millions of dollars.

The Houthis insist their attacks will continue until Israel stops its combat operations in the Gaza Strip, which have enraged the wider Arab world and seen the Houthis gain international recognition.

However, there has been a slowdown in attacks in recent days. The reason for that remains unclear.

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