An overladen ship crammed with thousands of sheep capsized Sunday off Sudan’s Red Sea coast drowning the animals on board but with all crew surviving, port officials said.
The livestock vessel was heading from Sudan’s port of Suakin to Saudi Arabia when it ran into trouble in the Red Sea.
“The ship, Badr 1, sank during 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.”
Another official, who said that all crew were rescued, raised concerns about the economic and environmental impact of the accident.
“The sunken ship will affect the port’s operation,” the official said.
“It will also likely have an environmental impact due to the death of the large number of animals carried by the ship,” the official added.
Last month, a massive fire broke out in the cargo area of Suakin port, lasting hours and causing heavy damage. It was not clear what caused the blaze.
An investigation has been launched to determine the cause of the fire but has yet to release its findings.
The historic port town of Suakin is no longer Sudan’s main foreign trade hub, a role which has been taken by Port Sudan, some 60 kilometers (40 miles) away along the Red Sea coast.
There have been moves to redevelop the port, but a 2017 deal with Turkey to restore historic buildings and expand the docks was suspended after the ouster of longtime President Omar al-Bashir.
Sudan remains gripped by a chronic economic crisis, which has deepened 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, who demanded the restoration of the transitional administration installed after Bashir was toppled.