Houthi leader: UK's Sunak can recover Rubymar ship by letting aid into Gaza

This handout satellite image released by Maxar Technologies shows the Belize-flagged cargo ship Rubymar, damaged in a February 19 missile strike claimed by the Iran-backed Houthis. (Photo/AFP)

A senior Houthi leader said he held British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his government responsible for the sinking of the UK-owned Rubymar.

Mohammed Ali al Houthi, head of Yemen's Houthi supreme revolutionary committee, also said on X: "Sunak has a chance to recover the Rubymar by allowing aid trucks into Gaza."

Yemen's internationally recognised government said earlier on Saturday that the Rubymar, which was attacked by Houthis last month, had sunk in the Red Sea and warned of an "environmental catastrophe" from the ship's cargo of fertiliser.

The Houthis claimed the February 19 attack against the Rubymar, a cargo ship flying a Belizean flag and operated by a Lebanese firm, which transported combustible fertilisers.

The crew abandoned the ship and evacuated to safety after it was hit by two missiles.

The vessel had departed the United Arab Emirates and was bound for the Bulgarian port of Varna.

Fuel oil leaking

"The MV Rubymar sank last night, coinciding with weather factors and strong winds at sea," said a crisis cell of Yemen's internationally recognised government in charge of the case.

Roy Khoury, chief executive of the ship's operator Blue Fleet, said he was unaware of the sinking. "We have nobody on board to check if it's true or not," he told AFP.

Fuel oil appeared to be leaking from the vessel in satellite images shared by Maxar Technologies and published by AFP.

The TankerTrackers website said the sinking would "cause an environmental catastrophe in the (Yemeni) territorial waters and in the Red Sea".

"A spill of ammonium nitrate fertiliser in the sea could have several significant impacts on marine ecosystems," said Julien Jreissati, programme director for Greenpeace in the Middle East and North Africa.

Houthi attacks on ships linked to Israel

The maritime security agency UKMTO, run by the British navy, said the Rubymar had been 35 nautical miles (65 kilometres) from the Yemeni port of Mokha when its crew was forced to abandon it.

The Rubymar was identified as British-registered by the US military and security firm Ambrey, but Khoury has denied that information.

Since November, the Houthis have been carrying out attacks on ships linked to Israel in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, saying they are acting in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.

Since the Hamas attack on Oct 7, 2023, Israel has been conducting a military offensive against Gaza, in which at least 30,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, have been killed.

In response to the Houthi attacks, Israel's main ally the United States established a multinational force in December in order to protect maritime traffic in the strategic waterway.

Since January the US and its allies have launched numerous strikes against Houthi targets in Yemen, where the Iran-backed fighters have fought forces of internationally recognised government since 2014.


Source: TRT