Cattle culled after ‘hellish’ two months on boat

Cattle culled after ‘hellish’ two months on boat

Spanish authorities have culled nearly 900 cattle which spent two months at sea after Libya and Turkey refused to let the ship they were on dock amid fears the animals have bluetongue.

The cattle left the Spanish port of Cartagena in mid-December on board the Karim Allah, which was bound for Turkey, but the boat was forced to return with its cargo after authorities refused to let the cattle into their countries.

Spain’s Agriculture Ministry said the cattle were slaughtered “in strict compliance with Spanish and European norms regulating the health and wellbeing of animals”.

A statement added that the cattle originally left Spain with the proper health authorisations.

A vets’ report previously said that many of the animals were unwell after such a long journey.

Although it did not say whether the animals had bluetongue, a viral disease that causes lameness and haemorrhaging among cattle but does not affect humans.

‘Can’t explain it’

Of the 895 calves that initially left Spain, 22 died at sea and were thrown overboard, according to the boat’s captain Nabil Mohamad.

Mr Mohamad told the Spanish newspaper El Pais: “I can’t explain it. I’ve been in this for 25 years and nothing like this has ever happened to me. I don’t understand anything, it has been very hard.”

Lawyers for shipowner claimed more than €1m had been spent on looking after the animals at sea.

However, animal rights groups previously questioned how well the cattle had been cared for, with Silvia Barquero, the director of the Igualdad Animal NGO, describing their crossing as “hellish”.

“What has happened to the waste produced by all these animals for two months We are sure they are in unacceptable sanitary conditions.”