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Cargo ship MV Tutor sinks in Red Sea days after Houthi drone boat attack

WorldCargo ship MV Tutor sinks in Red Sea days after Houthi drone boat attack

A bulk carrier sank days after an attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels believed to have killed one mariner on board, authorities said early Wednesday, the second-such ship to be sunk in the rebel campaign.

The sinking of the MV Tutor in the Red Sea marks what appears to be a new escalation by the Iranian-backed Houthis in their campaign targeting shipping through the vital maritime corridor over the war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The attack comes despite a months-long US-led campaign in the region that has seen the US Navy face its most-intense maritime fighting since World War II, with near-daily attacks targeting commercial vessels and warship.

The Liberian-flagged, Greek-owned-and-operated MV Tutor sank in the Red Sea, the British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations centre said in a warning to sailors in the region.

The MV Tutor sinking in the Red Sea. Photo: Etat-Major des Armées via AP

“Military authorities report maritime debris and oil sighted in the last reported location,” the UKMTO said. “The vessel is believed to have sunk.”

The Houthis did not immediately acknowledge the sinking. The US military as well did not immediately acknowledge the sinking and did not respond to requests for comment.

The MV Tutor came under attack about a week ago by a bomb-carrying Houthi drone boat in the Red Sea. It was also struck an “unknown airborne projectile”.

John Kirby, a White House national security spokesman, said Monday that the attack killed “a crew member who hailed from the Philippines”.

The Philippines has yet to acknowledge the death, but the man who had been aboard the M/V Tutor has been missing for over a week in the Red Sea, which faces intense summertime heat.

The use of a boat loaded with explosives raised the spectre of 2000’s USS Cole attack, a suicide assault by al-Qaeda on the warship when it was at port in Aden, killing 17 on board.

The Cole is now part of a US Navy operation led by the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Red Sea to try and halt the Houthi attacks, though the rebels continue their assaults.

The Houthis have launched more than 50 attacks on shipping, killing four sailors. They’ve seized one vessel and sunk two since November, according to the US Maritime Administration.

A US-led air strike campaign has targeted the Houthis since January, with a series of strikes May 30 killing at least 16 people and wounding 42 others, the rebels say.

In March, the Belize-flagged Rubymar carried a load of fertiliser sank in the Red Sea after taking on water for days following a rebel attack.

The Houthis have maintained their attacks target ships linked to Israel, the US or the UK. However, many of the ships they’ve attacked have little or no connection to the ongoing Israel-Gaza war.

The war in Gaza has killed more than 37,000 Palestinians there, while hundreds of others have been killed in Israeli operations in the West Bank. It began after Hamas-led militants attacked Israel on October 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking around 250 hostage.

A recent report by the US Defence Intelligence Agency acknowledged container shipping through Red Sea has declined by 90 per cent since December over the attacks. As much as 15 per cent of the world’s maritime traffic flows through that corridor.

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