- Secret decks not in cargo plan found to carry extra animals in a livestock carrier that sank off the Romanian port of Midia in November.
- Only 180 sheep survived out of the 14,600 initially believed to have been onboard the carrier from Romania, to Saudi Arabia.
- Animal activists called to impose a ban on live exports from Europe to non-EU countries, particularly the Middle East and north Africa.
- Calls getting strengthened for an outright ban of long-distance transports of live animals and a maximum of eight hours transportation duration.
- Romania exports about 3 million sheep annually.
- European live animal exports rose from a value of $1bn (£800m) in 2000 to $3.3bn in 2018.
Divers team that was salvaging a sunken livestock carrier discovered secret decks purportedly used for transporting thousands of undocumented animals. The extra weight is likely what capsized the vessel, says an article published in The Guardian.
Secret decks for extra animals
Salvage divers off Romania found secret decks for extra animals in a livestock carrier that sank off the Romanian port of Midia in November. Click here for previous insight.
According to the company that carried out the massive salvage operation, thousands of sheep were drowned.
Was it 14,600 sheep onboard?
Only 180 sheep survived out of the 14,600 initially believed to have been onboard the Queen Hind, which was carrying them from Romania, the EU’s biggest exporter of the animal, to Saudi Arabia.
But the revelations about secret decks are likely to increase the death toll by several thousands.
Was overloading the reason?
This had raised fresh questions on whether overloading was the reason for the capsize.
The vessel was left on its side in the water as it sank not far from port, with sheep corpses piling up around it. With the images of the tragedy getting circulated, animal activists called to impose a ban on live exports from Europe to non-EU countries, particularly the Middle East and north Africa.
GSP Offshore won the auction
It was reported that Grup Servicii Petroliere (GSP Offshore) won the auction to bring the vessel to shore.
It made its first attempt on Saturday but operations were halted after the crane’s cables were unable to bear the load.
Four additional decks spotted
Gabriel Comănescu, GSP’s president, was quoted by Adevărul as saying that “during the operation, the divers entered the water, [and] found additional decks. These additional decks also have animals on board.”
Additional decks not included in cargo plan
Comănescu added that the additional decks were not included in the cargo plan and they were undeclared. Comănescu insisted that the authorities have to find out why they were loaded and why they were not included in the cargo plan. “There is a much larger load than over 14,000 sheep.”
Complaints to be filed
Gabriel Paun, of Animals International, said the revelation “confirms our initial suspicion that the vessel capsized because of overloading.”
Animals International said it will file complaints to the EU commission and the Romanian prosecutor’s anti-corruption department.
GSP efforts to bring out the vessel
Paun said :
- GSP came with the right equipment last week and they tried to lift it up with a crane and bring it to the shore.
- They had calculated that the ship was full of water and animals, so they were prepared to lift more [weight] but still the cables broke.
Divers for investigation
The head of the company had sent down divers to investigate, and discovered secret decks loaded with thousands of animals.
No more than eight hours transportation duration
Brian da Cal, UK director at the animal welfare organisation Four Paws, said he feared that the death of thousands of sheep could have been avoided.
He said, the allegations regarding hidden decks on the ship are of huge concern and strengthens the calls for an outright ban of long-distance transports of live animals and a maximum of eight hours transportation duration.
Rescue and survival
He said Four Paws was able to rescue 254 sheep from the half-sunken ship but several died later of exhaustion and injuries. 180 survived and are now being kept in a location north of Bucharest.
Paun said Romania exports about 3 million sheep annually. European live animal exports rose from a value of $1bn (£800m) in 2000 to $3.3bn in 2018.
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Source: The Guardian