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Second aid ship bound for Gaza leaves Cyprus port

A Cyprus coastguard vessel approaches the aid ship Jennifer off Larnaca ahead of its departure for Gaza
— Larnaca (Cyprus) (AFP)

A second vessel carrying aid to war-torn Gaza set sail from Cyprus on Saturday, an AFP correspondent reported, more than two weeks after the last shipment arrived by sea.

Almost 400 tons of aid is being carried to Gaza on a flotilla organised by two charities -- the US-based World Central Kitchen and the Spanish Open Arms.

The barge and two salvage vessels left the port of Larnaca following diplomacy by Cyprus to try to open a maritime corridor to the territory, under siege by Israeli forces since last October.

"There is not enough aid getting through to Gaza and we need to open as many ways as possible," Juan Camilo of World Central Kitchen said in a video shot from the flotilla and posted to X/Twitter.

With insufficient aid trucks entering Gaza by road more than five months into the war, famine warnings have multiplied, prompting efforts to get relief into the territory by air or sea.

But UN agencies have said repeatedly that overland deliveries are the only way of supplying aid in the volume needed.

World Central Kitchen said the shipment from Cyprus contains items like rice, pasta, flour, legumes, canned vegetables and proteins.

The United Arab Emirates provided a special cargo of dates, which are traditionally eaten to break the daily fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the charity said.

Cyprus government spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis said the flotilla would take roughly 65 hours to reach Gaza, where a makeshift dock has been constructed to unload humanitarian aid.

He said the Jennifer was carrying 282 pallets of foodstuffs totalling 237 tons, as well as a wheeled crane which will be used to unload the aid.

The barge ARES was carrying 109 aid packages weighing a total of 95 tons.

The support vessel Ledra Dynamic was carrying specialised support personnel who will operate the crane carried by the Jennifer, Letymbiotis added.

A first vessel, the Open Arms, reached Gaza with a barge loaded with 200 tonnes of food on March 15, in a trial run for the maritime aid corridor.

Bad weather in the eastern Mediterranean held up the second voyage.