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Yemeni tanker spill would be four times worse than Exxon Valdez, U.N. warns by Linda Givetash July 16,2020   |  Source: NBC News

Up to 1.1 million barrels of oil could spill into the Red Sea causing a disaster four times worse than the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, the United Nations Security Council heard on Wednesday.

Time is running out to prevent a dilapidated oil tanker stranded near Yemen from causing a "looming environmental, economic and humanitarian catastrophe," United Nations Environment Programme chief, Inger Andersen, warned.

The Yemeni-government owned tanker, FSO Safer, started taking on water in May. If its oil does spill it could cause irreversible damage to the Red Sea's rich biodiversity, including coral reefs and mangroves.

"Cleaning it up afterwards is not a viable option," said U.S. Amb. Kelly Craft.

The damage would also have severe economic implications for at least 1.6 million Yemeni people, said Mark Lowcock, the U.N. humanitarian affairs chief. "Essentially every fishing community along Yemen’s west coast would see their livelihoods collapse."

Nearly all of those communities at risk already require humanitarian aid because of the years-long war in the Arab world's poorest country, he added.

The conflict, which began in 2014, has seen Iran-aligned Houthi Shiite rebels attempt to topple the internationally-recognized government by taking control of the capital



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