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UN says worker died after being hit by cargo at Yemeni port

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — A Yemeni port worker died at the country’s Red Sea port of Hodeida after he was hit by a container being offloaded from a vessel, the U.N. food program said Tuesday.

The accident took place on Monday when workers were offloading a vessel carrying cargo owned by the World Food Program, according to a spokesperson for the agency who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the accident.

Yemeni officials had previously said the vessel capsized on Tuesday while its cargo was being offloaded. WFP later denied the capsizing.

The strategic Hodeida port handles about 70% of Yemen’s commercial and humanitarian imports.

The World Food Program did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.

Yemen, already the Arab world’s poorest country, has been caught in a grinding civil war since 2014, when the Iran-backed Houthi rebels captured much of the country’s north and the capital of Sanaa, forcing the internationally recognized government to flee.

The following year, a Saudi-led coalition intervened to wage war on the Houthis and restore the government to power. It also imposed a land, sea and air embargo on Yemen.

The conflict has killed more than 130,000 people and spawned the world’s worst humanitarian disaster. The U.N. has warned that 16 million people — or about half the Yemen population — could face serious food insecurity. Tens of thousands of people already live in famine-like conditions.

Ahmed Al-haj, The Associated Press