Yemeni official government's information minister on Tuesday warned against risks posed by a collapse of the floating storage and offloading (FSO) facility Safer, as the tanker has been eroding with one million barrels of crude inside.
"Leakage of 138 million liters of crude in the Red Sea would lead to the closure of Hodeida port for months," Moammar al-Eryani added in remarks carried by the Riyadh-based Saba, warning of "800% increase in oil prices and spikes in food prices.
"It would also cause fishery reserves losses of more than ten billion dollars in the next 20 years.
"If the Safer tanker catches fire following leakage or explosion, 3 million people in Hodeida will be affected by toxic gases, 500,000 fishermen and their families .. will be in need for food assistance, and fishery reserves will need 25 years to recover," the Yemeni minister said.
The Houthi group tightens grip of the Red Sea city of Hodeida and its port overlooking the FSO facility, which UN experts call for Houthi permission to be checked and repaired.
Mixture of gas and rainwater could end up in ground water, causing to slow poisoning and health problems for 6 million people.
"4% of Yemen's productive farmlands will be covered with black clouds, exhausting 70 million dollars of grains, fruits and vegetables."
An environmental catastrophe could make 58 humanitarian groups suspend services in Hodeida, leaving 7 million people in need, Eryani added, blaming the Houthis for consequences that could go beyond Bab al-Mandeb and Suez Channel and reach the Gulf of Aden.
The Yemeni State-owned tanker of Safer has not repaired since 2014, with corrosion making the FSO at risk of looming explosion and, thus, the Red Sea at risk of the worst environment disaster, according to UN experts.
On 10 May, the Houthi authorities urged the UN to pressure the Saudi-led coalition into allowing for facility's discharge, and warned against using the issue in a military operation.
Safer "is now a time bomb threatening the marine environment," Houthi-appointed health minister, Ahmed Daris, said.