Shipping authorities probe ‘incident’ off Yemen as Iran denies aiding attacks

A shipping incident which took place approximately 50 nautical miles west of Hodeidah, Yemen, is under investigation by authorities, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) agency announced on Saturday.

Vessels are advised to transit with caution, the agency said in a statement.

The UKMTO also said it had received multiple reports of an ummanned aircraft system drone flying low above a vessel before exploding 1.5 nautical miles from it.

The Iran-backed Houthi movement in Yemen has launched attacks on vessels in the region recently in response to the war in Gaza.

In November, the Houthis seized the Galaxy Leader in the Red Sea, which Israel said was British-owned and Japanese-operated.

Experts have warned the cost of furniture, electronics and DIY products is set to rise in the UK because of the shipping crisis in the Red Sea.

It comes as Iran denied US accusations that it was involved in planning attacks by the Houthi movement on commercial vessels in the Red Sea, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported.

A Houthi fighter stands on the Galaxy Leader cargo ship in the Red Sea after it was seized (Photo: Houthi Military Media/Handout via Reuters)

The repeated denial, issued by Iranian deputy foreign minister Ali Bagheri Kani, came after the White House said Tehran was “deeply involved” in planning the operations and its intelligence was critical to enable the Houthis to target ships.

“The resistance (Houthis) has its own tools of power and acts according to its decisions and capabilities,” Bagheri Kani told Mehr.

Iran supports the Houthis but officially denies arming the group, which has seized Yemen’s capital Sanaa after ousting the government and now controls large swaths of the country.

The Houthis, who say their attacks are aimed at Israel-linked ships and are in support of Palestinians under siege by Israel in Gaza, have targeted commercial shipping in the Red Sea with drones and missiles, forcing shippers to change course and take longer routes around the southern tip of Africa.

(This story is being updated)