Possible explosion reported near vessel off Yemen’s coast

Possible explosion reported near vessel off Yemen’s coast

DUBAI (Reuters): A possible explosion near a vessel in the vicinity of the Bab Al-Mandab and a second incident near the strait at the southern end of the Red Sea were reported on Monday by a British maritime authority.

In an advisory, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) said it had received a report of a possible explosion two nautical miles from a vessel located 30 nautical miles south of the Yemeni port of Mokha.

The UKMTO said in a separate advisory it had received a report of an “incident” 30 nautical miles northwest of Mokha.

British maritime security firm Ambrey also said that it had received information of a possible explosion in the water near a vessel 30 nautical miles south of Mokha.

Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement has been attacking vessels in the Red Sea area in protest at Israel’s devastating bombardment and invasion of Hamas-ruled Gaza following a cross-border attack by Hamas militants on Oct. 7.

Two major freight firms including MSC, the world’s biggest container shipping line, said over the weekend they would avoid the Suez Canal in response to the attacks by Houthi forces, which control most of Yemen.

The Suez Canal shipping route, which leads to the Red Sea, is a vital waterway for global trade, used to transport energy and other goods between Europe and Asia, and elsewhere. The route saves on time and expense by avoiding having to navigate around the entire Africa continent.

The Houthis have pledged to continue their attacks until Israel stops its assault but on Saturday said that real steps to ease the humanitarian crisis in Gaza would contribute to “reducing the escalation.” They also said that they were in Oman-mediated talks about its sea “operations.”

That was the first indication that the militia group may be willing to de-escalate. The US has said it is seeking a coalition to protect ships in the Red Sea and to send a signal to the Houthis, which have also fired drones and missiles at Israel since the start of the Israel-Hamas war in October.