‘Catastrophe in waiting’ – UN to examine decaying Red Sea tanker

ADVERTISEMENT

The UN has finally got permission to inspect a decaying tanker stranded off Yemen with 1.1 million barrels of oil.

The FSO Safer was abandoned five years ago when seawater flooded its engine room and there are fears of a devastating oil spill if maintenance work is not carried out.

The UN says the ship is “rapidly decaying” and has called it a “catastrophe in waiting” for Yemen and the Red Sea.

READ ALSO

Yemen’s Houthi rebels agreed by letter on Saturday to allow an expert team to examine the vessel, said UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.

The Houthis – one side fighting the civil war in the impoverished Middle East country – have control of Hudaydah, the port 40 miles (60km) from where the ship is located.

Mr Dujarric said it was “an important step forward in… critical work” to secure the vessel, and comes after months of negotiation.

ADVERTISEMENT

Speaking on Tuesday, he said experts would “undertake initial light maintenance” and “formulate recommendations on what further action is required to neutralize the risk of an oil spill”.

More from Yemen

Many children are suffering from acute malnutrition
Image: The civil war has devastated Yemen and millions of children are suffering from malnutrition

He said the Houthis had “assured us that they will provide all the necessary facilitation to ensure that the expert team can deploy as quickly as possible”.

However, any work is still several months away.

The UN spokesperson said staff and equipment could be on site by late January or early February, as it would take time to source equipment and get permits.

Divers and Houthi naval units managed to plug the most recent leak – in May this year.

An expert working for the UN warned earlier this month that any oil spill “could be four times worse than the historic Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska, in 1989”.

“If this ship were to break up, a spill could decimate livelihoods of local coastal communities, biodiversity in the region, and heavily impact shipping routes in the Red Sea”, said Marcos Orellana.

Source : Sky News