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People's Daily Online

UN vessel arrives at moored oil tanker off Yemeni coast for rescue preparation

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 09:15, May 31, 2023

SANAA, May 30 (Xinhua) -- A United Nations (UN) ship arrived on Tuesday at the site of the floating storage and offloading (FSO) Safer vessel, a decaying super oil tanker, off the coast of Ras Issa, Hodeidah in western Yemen.

The UN office in Yemen said in a statement that the ship, an engineering vessel called "Ndeavor," had arrived from the east African country of Djibouti across the Red Sea to make the first preparations for an emergency rescue plan.

The statement said the ship would start working soon to make the super oil tanker safer before the extraction process begins.

Meantime, a UN employee in Yemen confirmed to Xinhua that the plan to unload oil from the severely deteriorating ship would not start in the next few days, as Ndeavor's job is to create a safer and better condition for the next phase.

The UN is still appealing to the international community to raise more money to fund the crucial operation.

The FSO Safer, anchored in the Red Sea off the coast of Hodeidah, has not undergone maintenance since 2015 due to the ongoing conflict in Yemen. The deteriorating and dilapidated supertanker has been labeled a "floating time bomb" by the UN, as it poses a significant risk of explosion or an oil spill, potentially causing a catastrophe four times as disastrous as the 1989 Exxon Valdez incident in the Red Sea.

A statement by the UN Development Programme warned that a major spill would devastate fishing communities along Yemen's Red Sea coast, resulting in the loss of 200,000 livelihoods overnight, with fish stocks taking 25 years to recover. It would also lead to the closure of the essential ports of Hodeidah and Saleef, which are crucial for bringing food, fuel, and life-saving supplies into Yemen, where 17 million people need food assistance.

The UN said in March that it had purchased a super oil tanker, named "Nautica," to offload the over one-million-barrel crude oil on FSO Safer.

In April, the UN said it had received firm commitments for 95 million U.S. dollars for the FSO Safer rescue plan, adding it still needs another 34 million dollars to continue the project.

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