Ship boat

Over 15,000 sheep drown after living export ship sinks in Sudan | Sudan

A ship stuffed with thousands of sheep sank in Sudan’s Red Sea port of Suakin on Sunday, drowning most of the animals on board but the entire crew survived, officials said.

The livestock vessel was exporting the animals from Sudan to Saudi Arabia when it sank. “The vessel, Badr 1, sank in the early hours of Sunday morning,” a senior Sudanese port official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “He was transporting 15,800 sheep.”

Another official, who said the entire crew had been rescued, raised concerns 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 environmental impact due to the death of the large number of animals transported by the ship.”

Omar al-Khalifa, the head of the national exporters association, said the ship took several hours to sink alongside – a window suggesting it “could have been rescued”.

The total value of the lost livestock was around 14 Saudi riyals ($3.7 million), said Saleh Selim, the head of the association’s livestock division, which called for an investigation into the incident.

He said the cattle owners only salvaged around 700 sheep “but they were found very sick and we don’t expect them to live long”. He also confirmed that the sheep had been loaded onto the vessel at the port of Suakin.

A sheep is rescued after the sinking of the ship Badr 1. Photography: AFP/Getty Images

The port is already under investigation to determine the cause of a massive fire last month that broke out in the cargo area, lasting for hours and causing heavy damage.

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, 60 km (40 miles) along the Red Sea coast.

Steps have been taken to redevelop the port of Suakin, but a 2017 deal with Turkey to restore historic buildings and expand docks was put on hold after the ousting of longtime President Omar al-Bashir.

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 by Western governments, which demanded the restoration of the transitional administration installed after Bashir’s overthrow.