(Bloomberg) -- The missile attack by Houthi militants on a ship carrying a cargo of fertilizer has led to an “environmental disaster” in the Red Sea, US Central Command said Friday evening.

Hours later, Central Command reported that American forces had destroyed seven mobile anti-ship cruise missiles that were about to be launched from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen.

Two anti-ship ballistic missiles struck the cargo vessel, the Rubymar, early this week.

“The ship is anchored but slowly taking on water,” Central Command said in a statement posted Friday on the social media platform X. “The unprovoked and reckless attack by Iran-backed Houthi terrorists caused significant damage to the ship, which caused an 18-mile oil slick.”

The crew of the Belize-flagged Rubymar was forced to abandon the vessel, marking the first such evacuation since the Houthis began disrupting commercial shipping in the Red Sea in response to the war in the Gaza Strip.

The Houthis, who control much of the northwest of Yemen, claimed to have sunk the vessel shortly after the attack. The crew was rescued by a container ship and taken to Djibouti. 

Earlier: Iran-Backed Houthis Prepare for Long Red Sea Battle With US

“The M/V Rubymar was transporting over 41,000 tons of fertilizer when it was attacked, which could spill into the Red Sea and worsen this environmental disaster,” Central Command added. “The Houthis continue to demonstrate disregard for the regional impact of their indiscriminate attacks.”

Central Command said in its second posting on X that the destroyed missiles “presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and to the U.S. Navy ships in the region.”

The Houthi assaults have continued despite waves of airstrikes by the US and the UK.

On Thursday, a cargo ship caught fire after being attacked by two missiles in the Gulf of Aden, the UK Navy said. On Tuesday, the Houthis fired two missiles at a ship carrying humanitarian assistance to Yemen. 

(Updates with Houthi missiles destroyed, starting second paragraph.)

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