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A ship earlier hit by Yemen's Houthi rebels sinks in the Red Sea, the first vessel lost in conflict

Ship previously attacked by Houthis sinks in Red Sea
Ship previously attacked by Houthi militants sinks in Red Sea 00:25

A ship attacked by Yemen's Iranian-backed Houthi militants has sunk in the Red Sea after days of taking on water, officials said Saturday, making it the first vessel to be fully destroyed as part of their campaign over Israel's war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The Rubymar — which was Belize-flagged but British-owned — had been drifting northward after being struck on Feb. 18 by a ballistic missile in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, a crucial waterway linking the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

U.S. Central Command said in a statement Saturday evening that the ship was carrying about 21,000 tons of ammonium phosphate sulfate fertilizer, and its sinking carried "an environmental risk in the Red Sea."

"As the ship sinks it also presents a subsurface impact risk to other ships transiting the busy shipping lanes of the waterway," CENTCOM added. 

Yemen's internationally recognized government, as well as a regional military official, confirmed the ship sank. The official spoke on condition of anonymity as the information had not been cleared for publication.

This picture taken on February 27, 2024 shows the Rubymar cargo ship sinking off the coast of Yemen.  -/AFP via Getty Images

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

Yemen's exiled government, which has been backed by a Saudi-led coalition since 2015, said the Rubymar sank late Friday as stormy weather took hold over the Red Sea. The vessel had been abandoned for 12 days after the attack, though plans had been floated to try and tow the ship to a safe port.

Rubymar, a Belize-flagged, British-registered and Lebanese-operated cargo ship carrying combustible fertilizer, was damaged in a missile strike on February 25 claimed by the Iran-backed Huthi rebels. -/AFP via Getty Images

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

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