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Yemen’s Red Sea 'time bomb’ is a Beirut-like disaster in waiting

An abandoned oil tanker is a looming catastrophe off the coast of Yemen’s most vital port, threatening the livelihoods and health of vast numbers of people.

An aging oil tanker moored off Yemen’s western coast has the United Nations and environmentalists warning that time is running out to prevent a humanitarian and environmental catastrophe in the Red Sea in what could be a parallel disaster to last week’s deadly explosion in Beirut.    

The FSO Safer, a dilapidated ship stranded about 37 miles north of Yemen's port city of Hodeidah, contains 1.14 million barrels of light crude oil and holds the potential to unleash four times as much oil into the sea than was spilled from the Exxon Valdez tanker in 1989, the United Nations says. An oil spill on that scale would cause lasting damage to both Yemen’s economy as well as what the UN calls one of “most important repositories of biodiversity on the planet.” 

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