Cattle ship sinks in Red Sea, drowning over 15,000 sheep

A sheep is rescued after the shipwreck Badr 1 sank in Sudan’s Red Sea port of Suakin, drowning most of the animals on board, June 12, 2022. AFP via Getty Images

A cattle ship carrying 15,800 sheep sank in the Red Sea on Sunday June 12 off the port of Suakin, Sudan. The vessel, Badr 1, was to depart from Sudan to export the sheep to Saudi Arabia. All crew members were rescued and survived, but only around 700 sheep were rescued.

According to a port official, the sunken ship will disrupt port operations and the large number of animal deaths will likely harm the surrounding environment.

Another port official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity, said the ship was only supposed to carry 9,000 sheep. “The vessel, Badr 1, sank in the early hours of Sunday morning,” the senior port official said. “It was carrying 15,800 sheep, which exceeded its load limits.”

Omar al-Khalifa, head of the national exporters association, believes the sheep and the ship could have been rescued, as it took several hours before the ship finally sank alongside, as reported by The Guardian.

Saleh Selim, head of the livestock division of the national exporters association, called for an investigation into the sunken vessel. Selim said the lost cattle were valued at around 14 million Saudi riyals ($3.7 million).

Selim also shared that around 700 sheep were rescued, “but they were found very sick and we don’t expect them to live long.”

This won’t be the only ongoing investigation at the Port of Suakin. Last month, a fire broke out in the cargo area and burned for several hours. This resulted in costly and extensive damage, and the cause of the fire has yet to be determined or publicly shared.

The port was once Sudan’s main foreign trade hub, but has since been replaced by Port Sudan, some 60 kilometers (40 miles) away. A 2017 deal with Turkey to restore local historic buildings, expand docks and restore the port was suspended after the ousting of former President Omar al-Bashir. The country remains in an economic crisis following a military coup, which also led to aid cuts from Western governments.