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Looming repeat of Beirut tragedy? Houthi rebels will lay blame on UN, Saudis if stranded oil tanker in Yemeni port explodes

Looming repeat of Beirut tragedy? Houthi rebels will lay blame on UN, Saudis if stranded oil tanker in Yemeni port explodes
Houthi rebels have warned they will hold the Saudis and the UN accountable for a possible disaster on its way to the Middle East, as a stranded tanker in the Yemeni port is feared to explode over a lack of maintenance.

The FSO Safer tanker with around 1.1 million barrels of oil on board was moored near the Yemeni port of Ras Isa in 2015. Now the ship is degrading, having spent years without maintenance. The volatile gasses built-up inside threaten to explode and spill the oil, creating a global environmental crisis.

The United Nations claim that they are awaiting permission from the Houthi side to visit the ship and start defusing the time-bomb that is the Safer. The Yemeni rebels’ spokesperson Mohammed Abdul Salam has rejected this notion saying that the Houthis’ demands for the repairing of the vessel were ignored.

Abdul Salam has also criticized the UN for its perceived inaction on the crisis, adding that the organization has removed the Saudi-led coalition – which wages a devastating air-campaign in Yemen and imposed a blockade there – from the list of children’s rights violators.

Yemen’s ongoing civil war and the accompanying humanitarian crisis are only adding to the situation. The tanker itself belongs to the Yemeni state-controlled firm, but it is located in the territory controlled by the Houthi rebel movement, who have been at war with the Saudi-backed ousted Hadi government since 2004.

After the August 4 city-wide blast in Beirut, the ousted Hadi government also warned that the Safer may explode. The Lebanon tragedy is speculated to have been a result of improperly storing more than 2,000 tons of ammonium nitrate, which was seized from a similar abandoned tanker in 2013.

The explosion in Beirut killed more than two hundred people, injured thousands, and left hundreds of thousands homeless in the wake of Lebanon's capital's devastation.

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