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Houthi Missile Attack Claims Three Lives on Red Sea Merchant Ship, Including Two Sri Lankans

U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) reported that a Houthi missile attack on Wednesday resulted in the tragic deaths of three seafarers aboard a Red Sea merchant vessel. The ship, flagged from Barbados and owned by a Greek company, was crewed by 20 members, including two Sri Lankans. This incident marks the first fatalities since the Iran-aligned Yemeni group initiated strikes against shipping in one of the world’s busiest trade lanes.

The Houthis claimed responsibility for the attack, which engulfed the Greek-owned vessel, named True Confidence, approximately 50 nautical miles off the coast of Yemen’s port of Aden. In response to the Houthi claim, Britain’s embassy conveyed its condolences and urged an end to such reckless acts, emphasizing the loss of innocent lives.

Since November, the Houthis have targeted ships in the Red Sea, citing solidarity with Palestinians during the conflict in Gaza. The confirmation of fatalities from this attack could intensify pressure for stronger military action from the United Kingdom and the United States, both of which have launched retaliatory strikes against the Houthis.

CENTCOM disclosed that the strike injured at least four crew members and inflicted significant damage to the vessel. The Greek operators reported that the True Confidence was adrift and ablaze. The crew, including 15 Filipinos, four Vietnamese, two Sri Lankans, an Indian, and a Nepali, along with three armed guards, were onboard during the attack.

Two Filipino seafarers were identified as victims, with two others severely injured, according to the Philippines’ ministry for migrant workers. The incident underscores the urgent need for diplomatic efforts to de-escalate tensions in the region and address the root causes of the conflict.

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) emphasized the escalating risks faced by seafarers in the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea. The attack on the True Confidence follows the recent sinking of the UK-owned bulk carrier Rubymar due to a Houthi strike.

These attacks have disrupted global shipping, prompting firms to seek longer and costlier routes around southern Africa. Despite the Houthis’ stated targets, all ships navigating the area remain vulnerable, according to industry sources.

The True Confidence, operated by Third January Maritime and owned by True Confidence Shipping, is registered in Liberia and has no connection to the United States. The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) agency confirmed the abandonment of the vessel and assured support for the crew from coalition forces.

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