An overloaded ship filled with thousands of sheep sank in Sudan’s Red Sea port of Suakin on Sunday, drowning the animals on board, but all the crew survived, port officials said.
The cattle ship was exporting the animals from Sudan to Saudi Arabia when it sank after several thousand more animals were loaded on board than it was supposed to be carrying.
“The vessel, Badr 1, sank in the early hours of Sunday morning,” a senior Sudanese port official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “It was carrying 15,800 sheep, which was beyond its load limits.”
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The official said the ship was supposed to carry just 9,000 sheep.
Another official, who said the entire crew had been rescued, expressed concern about the economic and environmental impact of the accident.
“The sunken vessel will affect the operation of the port,” the official said.
“It will also likely have an impact on the environment due to the death of the large number of animals transported by the ship.”
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Last month, a massive fire broke out in the cargo area of Suakin Port, lasting for hours and causing heavy damage. It is not known what caused the fire.
An investigation has been opened to determine the cause of the fire, but has not yet issued its conclusions.
The historic port town of Suakin is no longer Sudan’s main foreign trade hub, a role that has been taken over by Port Sudan, some 60 kilometers (40 miles) along the Red Sea coast.
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Steps have been taken to redevelop the port, but a 2017 deal with Turkey to restore historic buildings and expand the docks was put on hold after longtime President Omar al-Bashir was ousted.
Sudan remains in the grip of a chronic economic crisis, which worsened following last year’s military coup led by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.
The military takeover triggered punitive measures, including aid cuts from Western governments, which demanded the reinstatement of the transitional administration set up after Bashir’s overthrow.
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