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43 people presumed dead and 28,156 animals drown as cargo ship sinks

Search for Danny F.II survivors have been called off. The Panamanian-flagged cargo ship MV DANNY F II, carrying 83 people and thousands of livestock, capsized and sank off the Lebanese coast on Thursday (17 December 2009) in bad weather in the Mediterranean Sea, 11 nautical miles (20 km) from Tripoli, Lebanon, while sailing from Montevideo, Uruguay, to Tartarus, Syria, carrying six passengers, 77 crew, 10,224 sheep and 17,932 head of cattle. All of the livestock perished as the ship sank.

The Danny F II’s crew are mostly Pakistan and the Filipino nationals, along with citizens of Lebanon, Syria, Britain, Australia, Russia and Uruguay. The British captain is among the missing.

After a distress call made at 15:55 local time (13:55 UTC), a rescue effort was launched comprising ships from the Lebanese NavyUnited Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, the latter including two ships of the German Navy and one of the Italian Navy. A Bell Griffin HAR2 helicopter from 84 Squadron, Royal Air Force, based at RAF Akrotiri and Cyprus Police Aviation Unit helicopters (Bell 412) following a request from the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Larnaca were dispatched to assist in the rescue.

Nine Lebanese Army vessels, including a medical team, were dispatched to the scene, officials said.

The maritime unit of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) sent three vessels after a distress signal was received by Lebanese naval forces at around 7:30 p.m.

“The Maritime Task Force (MTF) dispatched three ships, one Italian and two German, to the area where the LAF Navy told us the distress signal had been received,” UNIFIL Deputy Spokesman Andrea Tenenti said.

“We dispatched the ships immediately,” he said. “They have begun rescue operations” in conjunction with the Lebanese Navy, Tenenti added.

Owner - which owner?

There was confusion over the exact owner of the ship and its final destination.

The vessel is the second ship to sink in Lebanese coastal waters in the space of a week, after the Sala II, a Togolese-flagged freighter which got into trouble around 70 kilometers off the coast of Tyre late last Friday.

Owned by Rachid Fares Enterprise Proprietary and managed by clandestine Falcon Point Intl Co. the thirty four year old Finish-built carrier was apparently in very bad condition. The ship was built as a car carrier in 1976 and converted to a livestock carrier in 1994.

It has been established meanwhile that ship was carrying the livestock to Tartous, Syria.

Search called Off

Authorities have now called off a search for survivors from the livestock carrier Danny F.II, said a Lebanese military spokesman.

Rescue efforts were apparently hampered by poor weather conditions, high waves and the floating carcasses of the ship's livestock.

Twenty five people are still missing and 18 are confirmed dead. One of the rescued crew members of the cargo ship said the British captain died when the ship capsized. Some 40 of the 83 people on board the 14,823 dwt converted car carrier were saved, thanks to a combined search and rescue operation.

Cruel livestock transport

The transport of thousands of livestock from Uruguay to Syria and the tragedy is highlighting this unnecessary and cruel trade.

The live export of cattle and sheep from Australia, Brazil and Uruguay for slaughter in the Middle East represents an enormous welfare concern with huge numbers of animals transported over very long distances. Each year millions of sheep and cattle are sent from these three countries on sea journeys lasting about three weeks.

Peter Stevenson, Chief Policy Advisor for Compassion in World Farming said: “Up to 100,000 sheep can be crammed on to a ship for live export. Each year thousands of sheep perish during the long journeys.

In addition to periodic disasters, such as this tragic sinking, when thousands of animals drown, the main causes of mortality are starvation due to failure to eat, disease, trauma and excessive heat and humidity combined with inadequate ventilation.”

“The high mortality rate is only the tip of the iceberg,” adds Peter Stevenson “many animals that survive suffer greatly from injury and disease including eye infections and even blindness during their intolerable journey. They also suffer from hunger, thirst, heat and exhaustion.”

Many animal protection and environmental organizations believe that this inhumane and completely unnecessary trade in live animal exports must be ended as a matter of urgency. Animals should be slaughtered in their country of origin with the meat then being transported where required.
© Ecoterra -

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