Riyadh, Jul 29 (IANS): The Yemeni government has expressed gratitude to Saudi Arabia for its additional $8-million assistance in the salvage operations of the Safer tanker abandoned off Yemen's western coast, media reported.
According to Yemeni Information Minister Moammar al-Eryani, the new aid, along with the previous $10-million support from Saudi Arabia, will be extended to the ongoing UN-led salvage operations of the decaying tanker off the coast of western Hodeidah province.
The UN emergency team on Tuesday started to transfer crude oil from the Safer tanker to a replacement vessel as part of an urgent mission to avert a potential environmental catastrophe of a massive oil spill, Xinhua news agency reported.
The Safer tanker was originally constructed as a supertanker in 1976 and later converted to a floating storage and offloading facility (FSO) for oil. After years of neglect because of civil conflict, the FSO Safer is on the brink of breaking up, raising concerns about a potential oil spill that could wreak havoc on the fragile marine ecosystem and exacerbate the already dire humanitarian situation in Yemen.
Earlier in July, the UN said it had raised about $118 million out of the estimated $148-million budget for the emergency rescue project for Safer.