Search icon

Thousands of animals drown as cargo ship sinks

News Section Icon Published 18/12/2009

A ship transporting thousands of livestock from Uruguay to Syria has sunk off the Lebanon coast, highlighting this unnecessary and cruel trade.

The Panamanian-flagged cargo ship, carrying 83 people and thousands of livestock,  sank off the Lebanese coast on Thursday (17 December 2009) after travelling thousands of miles. According to BBC news, the ship was reportedly carrying 10,224 sheep and 17,932 cattle.

The ship was carrying the livestock to Tartus, Syria. One of the rescued crew members of the Panamanian-flagged cargo ship said the British captain died when the ship capsized. The Lebanese navy has recovered 38 people and four bodies at the time of writing. Rescue efforts were apparently hampered by poor weather conditions, high waves and the floating carcasses of the ship's livestock.

All of the livestock perished as the ship sank. The rescue mission was continuing on Friday, after the Uruguayan ship, Danny F II, went down in a storm about 11 miles off the coast of Tripoli, Lebanon, said a Lebanese military spokesman.

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."

Compassion in World Farming believes 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.

Take action

There are several actions you can take to voice your opinion on this cruel trade.


You are using an outdated browser which we do not support. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience and security.

If you have any further questions regarding this, or any other matter, please get in touch with us at We aim to respond to all queries within two working days. However, due to the high volume of correspondence that we receive, it may occasionally take a little longer. Please do bear with us if this is the case. Alternatively, if your query is urgent, you can contact our Supporter Engagement Team on +44 (0)1483 521 953 (lines open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm).