Nearly 16,000 sheep have drowned in the Red Sea off the coast of Sudan after an overcrowded ship bound for Saudi Arabia capsized.
According to the Sudanese exporters’ association, the vessel carrying the livestock sank on Sunday morning not long after it left the eastern Sudanese port of Suakin.
The incident has dealt a financial blow of an estimated 5 million Saudi riyals ($4 million), the Sudan Tribune reports, citing unidentified officials.
“The ship, Badr 1, sank during the early hours of Sunday morning,” an unnamed senior Sudanese port official said. “It was carrying 15,800 sheep, which was beyond its load limits.”
A second official, also speaking on the condition of anonymity, expressed concern over the potential environmental and economic effects of the horrific event.
The official said: “The sunken ship will affect the port’s operation. “It will also likely have an environmental impact due to the death of the large number of animals carried by the ship.”
It comes just one month after a devastating blaze broke out in Suakin port, leaving in its wake severe damage. The source of the fire remains unknown. A probe into the incident was launched to determine the cause of the fire.
Sudan is home to one of Africa’s largest livestock populations, and reguarly exports the animals to Egypt and Gulf states, among other countries.
The country remains in the clutches of a severe economic crisis following last year’s coup.
The October military takeover dealt a blow to the country’s democratic transition and plunged the nation into turmoil.