Bulker damaged near Yemen by two missile attacks, security sources say

By Jana Choukeir, Tala Ramadan and Adam Makary

DUBAI/CAIRO (Reuters) -A bulk carrier already taking on water after a Houthi missile attack off the coast of Yemen on Tuesday has reported further damage from a second strike, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations said on Tuesday.

Maritime security and shipping sources earlier in day identified vessel as the Marshall Islands-flagged Laax.

Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthis have launched more than 50 attacks in the Red Sea region since November in what they say is solidarity with Palestinians. They since have expanded to the Indian Ocean.

The Houthis have sunk one ship, seized another vessel, killed two crew members and disrupted global shipping by forcing vessels to avoid the nearby Suez Canal and reroute trade around Africa.

Crew members involved in Tuesday's attacks are safe and their vessel is proceeding to its next port of call, the UK maritime security body said in the updated incident report. The ship's next scheduled port of call was in the United Arab Emirates.

The additional damage occurred 33 nautical miles northwest of Al Mukha, Yemen, the report said.

The Laax issued a distress call earlier on Tuesday, saying it had sustained damage to the cargo hold and was taking on water about 54 nautical miles southwest of Yemen's port city of Hodeidah, British security firm Ambrey said.

Greek shipping sources said the Laax was sailing to a port nearby to assess the extent of the damage. Reuters was not immediately able to determine if that was in the UAE.

Its Greece-based operator Grehel Ship Management did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Jana Choukeir and Tala Ramadan in Dubai, Yannis Souliotis in Athens, Adam Makary in Cairo, Jonathan Saul in London and Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Editing by Timothy Heritage, Gareth Jones and Cynthia Osterman)