A ship previously attacked by Yemen39s Houthi rebels sinks in.com2F052Fe42F78c9240b2f6c783a53e388da60232F61b23ed1bb6a46f0b4db098fba5b1177

A ship previously attacked by Yemen's Houthi rebels sinks in the Red Sea, the first ship lost in the conflict

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A ship attacked by Yemen's Houthi rebels has sunk in the Red Sea after taking on water for days, officials said Saturday. It was the first ship to be completely destroyed in the Gaza Strip as part of Israel's campaign against Hamas.

The Rubymar's sinking comes as shipping across the crucial waterway for cargo and energy shipments from Asia and the Middle East to Europe has been disrupted by Houthi attacks.

Many ships have already deviated from the route. The sinking could trigger more detours and higher insurance premiums for ships in the waterway – potentially boosting global inflation and affecting aid deliveries to the region.

The Belize-flagged Rubymar drifted north after it was struck by a Houthi anti-ship ballistic missile on February 18 in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, a key waterway connecting the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden .

Yemen's internationally recognized government and a regional military official confirmed that the ship had sunk. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because permission was not granted to speak to journalists about the incident.

The British military's United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations Center, which monitors Middle East waterways, separately confirmed the Rubymar's sinking on Saturday afternoon.

Rubymar's Beirut-based manager could not immediately be reached for comment.

Yemen's government-in-exile, backed by a Saudi-led coalition since 2015, said the Rubymar sank late Friday as stormy weather prevailed over the Red Sea. The ship was abandoned for twelve days after the attack, but there were plans to tow the ship to a safe port.

The Iran-backed Houthis, who had falsely claimed the ship sank almost immediately after the attack, did not immediately acknowledge the ship's sinking.

The US military's Central Command had previously warned that the ship's fertilizer cargo and fuel leaks from the ship could cause ecological damage in the Red Sea.

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

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

The Houthis have held Yemen's capital Sanaa since 2014 and are driving out the government. It has been fighting a stalemate war against a Saudi-led coalition since 2015.

Satellite images from Planet Labs PBC analyzed by The Associated Press showed smaller boats alongside the Rubymar on Wednesday. It was not immediately clear which ships were involved. The images showed the Rubymar's stern sinking into the Red Sea but still floating, mirroring previous video footage of the ship.

Private security firm Ambrey reported separately on Friday about a mysterious incident involving the Rubymar.

“Several Yemenis were reportedly injured in a security incident on Friday,” Ambrey said. It did not elaborate on what the incident was about, and none of the parties involved in Yemen's years-long war claimed there had been a new attack on the ship.

A satellite image taken by Maxar Technologies on Friday showed new blast damage to the Rubymar that had not been seen before and there were no other ships nearby.

Since November, the rebels have repeatedly attacked ships in the Red Sea and surrounding waters as part of the Israel-Hamas war. Those ships included at least one carrying cargo for Iran, the Houthis' main benefactor, and an aid ship that later sailed to Houthi-controlled areas.

Despite more than a month of US-led airstrikes, the Houthi rebels remain able to launch significant attacks. These include the attack on the Rubymar and the shooting down of an American drone worth tens of millions of dollars. The Houthis insist their attacks will continue until Israel ends its combat operations in Gaza, which have angered the entire Arab world and led to the Houthis gaining international recognition.

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


Associated Press writer Samy Magdy in Cairo contributed to this report.