Mass drowning off Yemen

Incident happened a week ago but only now confirmed.

Dozens missing after ship sinks off Yemen’s coast

At least 40 people, including women and children, are missing after a boat sank in the Arabian Sea about 350km (190 nautical miles) south of Yemen.

The cargo vessel had about 60 people on board when it disappeared while sailing from the eastern province of Hadramawt to the remote island of Socotra.

The government says the ship sank five days ago, but it appears that was only confirmed on Tuesday.

At least 19 people had been rescued by Wednesday morning, a minister said.

The cause of the sinking was not immediately clear.

Yemeni Fisheries Minister Fahd Kavieen was quoted by the AFP news agency as telling reporters on Wednesday that the ship had been carrying about 60 people.

It was believed to have sunk about 48km (26 nautical miles) north-west of Socotra as a result of an “accident”, he said, citing “preliminary information”.

He added that the government had issued an SOS to merchant vessels and warships in the area asking them to help search for survivors after the sinking was confirmed on Tuesday.

The Aden al-Ghad news website quoted a source in the coastguard as saying that he had received a notice from authorities in Hadramawt on Tuesday night that contact with the ship had been lost several hours after it set sail from Mukalla.

By Wednesday morning, 19 people had been rescued, according to Mr Kavieen.

“The search is ongoing,” he said. “Vessels have been combing the area since the early hours and there is significant hope that the passengers have survived.”

Shipping sources earlier told the Reuters news agency that five had been saved.

Socotra, which is home to about 50,000 people, is about 350km (190 nautical miles) south of Yemen and 240km (130 nautical miles) east of Somalia.

Flights between the Yemeni mainland and the island were suspended in March 2015, when the conflict between the government and the Houthi rebel movement escalated and a Saudi-led multinational coalition closed the country’s airspace.

There are no regular ferries, forcing islanders to seek passage on cargo vessels.


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