A British-registered ship attacked in the Red Sea has been damaged but has not sunk, BBC Verify has discovered.

On Monday, Houthi fighters claimed to have sunk the Rubymar. It would have been the most significant incident since attacks on ships began in November.

But the BBC has obtained an image of the ship from Wednesday – which shows it still above water.

The vessel’s operator said it was being towed to Djibouti but could still sink.

Ships in the Red Sea have come under regular attack in recent months. BBC analysis shows the attacks have continued despite the US and UK launching strikes on Houthis in Yemen.

On Monday, missiles hit the Rubymar near the Bab al-Mandab strait.

The ship’s operator – Blue Fleet Group – said one missile had hit the side of the ship near its engine room and it was listing.

A second missile hit the vessel’s deck. The crew abandoned the ship and were taken to nearby Djibouti. That evening, a Houthi spokesman claimed the vessel had been sunk.

But the BBC has obtained two images. The first is said to be from Tuesday and shows a vessel still above water. It is down by the stern, but has not sunk. Although the ship’s name is not visible, all of its characteristics match those of the Rubymar.

A photo of the Rubymar listing in the water
Image caption,

On Tuesday, an image shows the vessel down by the stern

The BBC has also obtained an image from Wednesday (shown at the top of this article) apparently of the same vessel in a similar situation, still afloat but with its stern very low in the water.

A satellite image from Tuesday also appears to show the vessel damaged, but above water. Again, all the characteristics match those of the Rubymar.

A satellite image showing the ship still above waterIMAGE SOURCE,PLANET LABS PBC

The BBC has also been told by its operators that they are trying to tow the ship to Djibouti.

That was confirmed by a second source from the industry. It is unclear whether the vessel can be fully salvaged given the damage done.

But Houthi claims to have sunk it on Monday appear to be incorrect.

The Houthis say their attacks are a show of support for the Palestinians in the war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The attacks have prompted many shipping companies to stop using the critical waterway, which accounts for about 12% of global seaborne trade.

Map of Red Sea and Gulf of Aden showing attacks on shipping by Houthis

The UK government has condemned the Houthi action as “completely unacceptable” and said it and its allies reserve the right to respond appropriately.

US and British forces began carrying out air strikes on military targets across Houthi-controlled western Yemen in response last mont

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