More than 30 missing in Yemen shipwreck
More than 30 people were missing off the Yemeni island of Socotra yesterday after a cargo vessel carrying islanders home from the mainland sank in the Indian Ocean, authorities said. At least 26 passengers were rescued from the water after a major search operation in the early hours, President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi said in a statement on the official sabanew.net website.
The ship sank northwest of Socotraaround 350 kilometers from Yemen’s south coast-which has been hit by rare tropical cyclones in recent months. Hadi called for “doubling efforts to broaden rescue operations to reduce the scope of the catastrophe that has struck the inhabitants of Socotra.” Officials declined to say if inclement weather was behind the disaster but Yemeni Fisheries Minister Fahd Kavieen earlier told reporters that the vessel had “an accident.”
“Sixty people, including women and children, were aboard the vessel, which was also carrying small fishing boats,” he said. The government said United Arab Emirates jets were assisting search and rescue operations alongside Yemeni coastguards as well as two ships from Australia and Austria. It did not specify whether those vessels were merchant ships or part of an international flotilla that has been fighting piracy off the nearby Somali coast.
Although long ruled from Yemen, Socotra lies closer to the coast of Africa than it does to the Arabian Peninsula. It sits at the exit of a busy shipping lane from the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal and the Red Sea into the Indian Ocean. For years it was prey to piracy from the lawless Somali coast and it is in one of the most heavily patrolled maritime areas on Earth. —AFP