Aden seaport authorities demand hire charge before dumping fertilizers

Yemeni members of the "Institution Protection Brigade" stand guard while on duty at the fishing port of Yemen's second city of Aden. (File/AFP)
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Updated 10 October 2020

Aden seaport authorities demand hire charge before dumping fertilizers

  • The story caused uproar and panic in Yemen, prompting lawmakers, government officials

AL-MUKALLA: Seaport authorities in Aden continue to store urea fertilizer despite an order to dump the hazardous material, government officials said Saturday.

In August, a committee assigned by Yemen’s attorney general to investigate reports of thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate being stored at the port found that the material was in fact a different fertilizer, urea. It ordered the seaport authority to get rid of it as it could explode if mixed with other materials.

The investigation followed a media report about ammonium nitrate gathering dust at the port that could cause a massive explosion, similar to the one that ravaged Beirut on Aug. 4. 

The story caused uproar and panic in Yemen, prompting lawmakers, government officials and the public into demanding a quick investigation.

When asked why the judiciary order had not been followed, Mohammed Amzrabeh, chairman of the Yemen Gulf of Aden Ports Corporation, told Arab News that the case was in court, without giving further details.

But, according to two local government officials familiar with knowledge of the case, seaport authorities are demanding that a local trader who imported the materials pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in hire charge for storing the urea.

“The seaport authorities seek a financial settlement with the trader,” one of the officials, who requested anonymity, told Arab News. “The materials have expired and no longer pose a threat to anyone.” 

The Saudi-led Arab coalition and the internationally recognized government have asked local traders to get permission before importing urea fertilizer, widely seen as an explosive material that could be used by the Houthis for military purposes. 

Last month, a busted arms ring that had supplied the Houthis with weapons from Iran confessed to importing tons of urea fertilizer for the rebels.

There has been fighting between government forces and the Houthis in the northern provinces of Jouf and Marib and the western province of Hodeidah for the second consecutive week, leaving dozens dead on both sides.

Yemen’s Defense Ministry said on Friday that coalition warplanes targeted a gathering of Houthi fighters in Marib, killing dozens of rebels and destroying vehicles. The rebels had been heading to battlefields in the province as reinforcement.

Coalition warplanes also hit Houthi military forces and equipment in Marib’s Serwah district.

Army troops and allied tribesmen on Friday announced seizing control of new areas in Khab and Sha’af district in Jouf, days after securing a strategic military base and neighboring areas. 

Backed by coalition air support, government troops in Jouf have been pushing forward to recapture Hazem, the provincial capital that fell to the Houthis in March.

Fighting subsided in Hodeidah on Saturday, days after government forces foiled Houthi attacks in Hays and Al-Durihimi districts and in contested districts in Hodeidah city.


Iran again breaks its single-day record for coronavirus deaths

Updated 19 October 2020

Iran again breaks its single-day record for coronavirus deaths

  • Fatalities have soared in recent weeks, as authorities struggle to contain the virus’s spread months into the pandemic
  • Current spike comes just weeks after schools nationwide welcomed back its 15 million students for in-person instruction

TEHRAN: Iran recorded its worst day of new deaths since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, with 337 confirmed dead on Monday.
The grim milestone represents a significant spike from the previous single-day death toll record of 279. The Health Ministry also announced 4,251 new infections, pushing the total count to 534,630.
Fatalities have soared in recent weeks, as authorities struggle to contain the virus’s spread months into the pandemic. Health officials say the capital, Tehran, has run out of intensive care beds.
The Islamic Republic emerged early in the pandemic as a global epicenter of the virus and has since seen the worst outbreak in the Middle East, with a death toll that topped 30,000 this week. The government has resisted a total lockdown to salvage its devastated economy, already weakened by unprecedented US sanctions.
As the death toll skyrockets, eclipsing the previous highs recorded in the spring amid the worst of its outbreak, authorities have started to tighten restrictions. The government ordered shut recently reopened schools and universities, as well as museums, libraries, beauty salons and other public places in Tehran earlier this month, and imposed a mask mandate outdoors.
Underscoring authorities’ contradictory response, the current spike comes just weeks after schools nationwide welcomed back its 15 million students for in-person instruction.
The virus has also sickened senior Iranian officials, including an adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and most recently the country’s atomic energy agency and its vice president in charge of budget and planning.
The timing of the pandemic has proved particularly difficult for Iran’s economy. The Trump administration re-imposed economic sanctions on Iran after its unilateral withdrawal in 2018 from Tehran’s nuclear accord with world powers. The nation’s currency plunged to its lowest-ever level last week following the US administration’s decision last week to blacklist Iranian banks that had so far escaped the bulk of re-imposed American sanctions.