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The shipping industry is sounding the alarm as another vessel sinks in the Red Sea

London CNN  —  Leading shipping groups have urged governments “with influence” to put a stop to Houthi attacks on vessels in the Red Sea after a second freighter sank this week. At least three seafarers have been killed in the attacks so far. The latest sinking is likely to have led to another death, according to a statement Wednesday from more than a dozen shipping associations, including the International Chamber of Shipping and the World Shipping Council. Their call for action highlights the growing human toll from the disruption to one of the world’s trade arteries which has been virtually closed to container ships since late last year. The longer diversion around the southern tip of Africa has sent shipping costs soaring and is causing congestion at ports in Asia and Europe, threatening to scramble global supply chains. “It is deplorable that innocent seafarers are being attacked while simply performing their jobs, vital jobs which keep the world warm, fed, and clothed,” the shipping associations said in their statement. “This is an unacceptable situation, and these attacks must stop now. We call for states with influence in the region to safeguard our innocent seafarers and for the swift de-escalation of the situation in the Red Sea,” they added. The statement was released the same day that UK Maritime Trade Operations, part of the Royal Navy, confirmed that a Greek-owned coal carrier had sunk after being struck by the Houthis last week. According to the shipping groups, one seafarer on board the vessel, called the MV Tutor, “seems certain to have been killed.” “This is the second fatal attack in which our seafarers have been caught in the crosshairs of geopolitical conflicts,” they said in their statement. The MV Tutor is also the second ship sunk by the Houthis. A British-registered vessel, Rubymar, was downed in March after being struck by ballistic missiles fired from Yemen. The Iranian-aligned Houthi rebels, based in Yemen, started launching drone and missile strikes on vessels in the Red Sea in November in what they say is revenge against Israel’s war in Gaza. They have since also seized one vessel and its crew, who are still being held hostage. Shipping costs keep rising Beyond the loss of life, the Houthi attacks have also caused severe disruption to transit through the Red Sea, which connects with the Suez Canal, a vital thoroughfare that accounts for 10-15% of world trade. Major container shipping companies, including Maersk and Hapag Lloyd, have been sending their vessels on the much longer route around the southern tip of Africa. Freight rates have surged as a result. In the week to June 13, the composite cost of shipping a typical 40-foot container on eight major East-West routes hit $4,801, up 202% from a year ago, according to London-based shipping consultancy Drewry. Sailors from the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group assist mariners rescued from the M/V Tutor, which was attacked by Houthis, in the Red Sea, on June 15. U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Reuters Related article Ship attacked by Houthi rebels believed to have sunk in Red Sea Carriers have also tacked on emergency surcharges to account for the disruption. Last month, Maersk temporarily increased some of these additional charges. “The complexity of the situation in Red Sea and the ripple effects on global supply chains have intensified in recent months,” the Danish company said in a statement at the time. “We continue to face additional challenges and costs,” it added, citing “operational bottlenecks.” According to logistics firm Freightos, the forced diversions are causing congestion at ports in Singapore, Malaysia, Shanghai in China and Barcelona in Spain, leading to delays and cancellations of sailings as vessels miss their scheduled departures. The recent increase in delays and shipping costs may also be putting pressure on companies to move seasonal goods now before rates climb further or to avoid delays later in the year, which could mean shortages during the peak shopping season, Freightos’s head of research Judah Levine wrote in a note Tuesday. “Houthi attacks continue to make the Red Sea unsafe, and increases in charter activity and rates indicate carriers expect congestion to remain a factor for some time,” he added.