900 cattle slaughtered after months of wandering

Updated on March 6, 2021, 8:18 pm

  • An excruciating odyssey on the high seas ends in Spain for 900 cattle with emergency slaughter.
  • The animals were supposed to be exported from Spain to Turkey, but could not be unloaded because of the suspected bluetongue disease.

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More than 900 cattle that had been cooped up on a freighter on the Mediterranean for around two and a half months are now being slaughtered in Spain. Originally, the animals were supposed to be exported from Spain to Turkey in December, where they were not allowed to be unloaded because of the suspected bluetongue disease. After much back and forth, the freighter “Karim Allah” has now returned to the port of Cartagena in southern Spain. The animals began unloading there on Saturday, as reported by the state TV broadcaster RTVE. Spanish media reported that they were supposed to be killed in a tent by the pier and the carcasses disposed of. 22 cattle have already died during the months at sea.

Selling the animals in Spain is not possible because the importation of live cattle from outside the EU is prohibited. The sanitary authorities announced after an inspection in Cartagena that the animals could no longer be transported to a third country, as the newspaper “El País” reported. A court in Madrid then approved the emergency slaughter on Friday. The owner wanted to prevent this and tried to find a buyer in another country.

Turkish authorities prevented the cattle from being unloaded

The freighter with the cattle left Cartagena on December 18th. At the destination in the Turkish Mediterranean port of Iskenderun, however, the cattle were turned away by the Turkish authorities because they were suspected of being sick. Bluetongue is an insect-borne viral disease that affects sheep in particular, but also cattle and goats.

The cattle ship then reportedly called on Libya in the hope of being able to sell the animals there. But the local authorities also forbade that. In search of food for the animals, the “Karim Allah” drove towards Tunisia, where the ship was turned away. It was only in the port of Augusta in Sicily that food could be fetched on board that had only got water for three days, according to “El País”. Then the freighter sailing under the Lebanese flag returned to Cartagena. (dpa / fra)

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