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A commercial ship carrying at least 5,000 livestock from Somalia to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) caught fire and burned 30 miles off Bosaso, a port city in Somalia's semi-autonomous region of Puntland, according to Said Mohamed Raage, Puntland's Minister for Sea and Ports who spoke to Somalia Report.
The Al-ayman vessel owned by the UAE and flagged by Sierra Leone was headed to Dubai carrying more than 2,800 sheep and goats as well as 1,573 heads of cattle, all of which reportedly died.
Of the 20 crew members (6 Somalis, 6 Sudanese, 4 Indians, 3 Eritreans and the Sri Lankan captain), two are missing, according to the minister.
“The commercial vessel caught on fire at 1:00pm yesterday (local time). We reached there to save the crew members and to help the vessel,” said the minister. "We were only able to save 18 members of the crew while two Sudanese are still missing in the sea."
Mohamed Farah Aden, Puntland’s Minister for Fishing and Natural Resources, said initial reports indicated there were more than 20,000 livestock on board. Once the Puntland forces arrived to help, they were told approximately 5,000 were on the vessel.
Brothers from Bosaso have been exporting the livestock to the UAE and lost nearly $800,000 in yesterday's incident.
“Two brothers and businessmen, Baari Dharaar and Abshir Dharaar, were exporting the livestock to Dubai,” according to the minister for sea and ports.
Despite the famine ravaging Somalia's southern regions, livestock remains a popular export to the Arab world, particularly for the upcoming Eid celebrations to mark the end of Ramadan.