A civilian ship heading to one of the “Danube ports” to load grain has been blown up in the Black Sea by a Russian sea mine.
The civilian vessel with the flag of Panama hit the sea mine, lost speed and a fire broke out on the upper deck leaving two sailors injured.
The Ukrainian Southern Defence Forces said, “The bulk carrier was heading to one of the Danube ports to load grain.”
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Maritime Security and Search and Rescue Service was immediately scrambled to provide assistance with doctors being bought on board.
“A Panama-flagged civilian ship was blown up on an enemy sea mine in the Black Sea,” Ukraine’s southern military command said on Telegram.
“The vessel lost its course and control, and a fire broke out on the upper deck.”
Whilst interviewing the Captain of the commercial vessel, two sailors were found injured, “One was treated on the spot, the second wounded man, accompanied by doctors, was taken to the nearest hospital for further examination. His condition is satisfactory.”
One of the sailors injured in the “explosion” is an Egyptian citizen and was taken to a hospital in the city of Izmail.
Tugboats were sent out to the Black Sea to retrieve the civilian vessel and refloat it to bring it to port.
The Southern Defence Forces said, “The defense forces continue to ensure the safety of civilian shipping in the face of heavy enemy mining at sea.
“Stormy weather often exacerbates mine hazards. Therefore, the issue of sea mine clearance with the support of international partnership remains relevant.”
In October, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has said that Vladimir Putin could release sea mines in the Black Sea to deliberately target civilian ships.
Intelligence shows that Russian attacks have to date destroyed enough grain that could have fed more than one million people for an entire year.
The UK’s intelligence assessment warned that Russia is “seeking to target civilian shipping travelling through Ukraine‘s ‘humanitarian corridor’ in order to deter the export of Ukrainian grain,” this includes releasing sea mines in the approach to Ukrainian ports.
The FCDO said in a statement, “Russia almost certainly wants to avoid openly sinking civilian ships, instead falsely laying blame on Ukraine for any attacks against civilian vessels in the Black Sea.
“By releasing our assessment of this intelligence, the UK seeks to expose Russia‘s tactics to deter any such incident from occurring.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said at the time, “Russia’s pernicious targeting of civilian shipping” in the Black Sea demonstrated Vladimir Putin’s “total disregard for civilian lives and the needs of the world’s most vulnerable.
“The world is watching – and we see right through Russia‘s cynical attempts to lay blame on Ukraine for their attacks.”