More than 850 cows that have spent two months at sea on a ship crossing the Mediterranean are facing slaughter, following a report from Spanish vets.
The cattle have suffered “hellish” conditions, according to animal rights activists.
The Karim Allah vessel originally left the Spanish port of Cartagena to deliver the cattle to Turkey but were refused entry due to fears over bluetongue.
The insect-borne bovine virus causes lameness and haemorrhaging among cattle but does not affect humans.
After being turned away from Turkey, owners failed to find a new buyer for the animals.
The ship was subsequently rejected by several more countries, even to replenish animal feed, leaving the animals to go several days with just water.
The ship was turned into a pariah vessel and it has now returned to its starting point in Cartagena.
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The confidential report by Spanish government veterinarians and seen by Reuters says the animals have suffered from the long journey and should be killed.
While it did not confirm whether the animals were suffering from bluetongue or not, it said they should not be allowed into the EU.
Image: The Karim Allah has been denied entry to several countries
Animal rights activist Silvia Barquero, director of the Igualdad Animal NGO, called the crossing “hellish” for the cattle and questioned what had happened to the waste produced by the cows during the crossing.
“We are sure they are in unacceptable sanitary conditions.”
Twenty-two cows are believed to have died at sea, and while 20 of the corpses have been chopped up and thrown overboard, two dead cows remain on board.
A lawyer representing the ship owner Talia Shipping Line, which is registered in Lebanon, said he believes the slaughter will now definitely go ahead.
Meanwhile, a second ship, the ElBeik, which also set sail from Spain in December with a cargo of nearly 1,800 cows is currently moored off the Turkish Cypriot port of Famagusta.
The agriculture ministry has been approached for comment.
Source : Sky News