Australian sheep ship to Kuwait blocked

An export ship due to carry more than 50,000 sheep to the Middle East has been blocked from leaving Australia after secret footage emerged of distressed animals dying and struggling to breathe in filthy conditions.

The latest images, shot onboard Panama-flagged livestock carrier Awassi Express, showed large numbers of sheep packed together in small, stifling pens, covered in or surrounded by excrement. Many were dead. The footage, captured over five voyages last year to Qatar, Kuwait and Oman from Australian ports, was released by activist group Animals Australia. “They just died in front of us,” Faisal Ullah, a graduate from Pakistan’s Marine Academy who shot the videos, told broadcaster Channel Nine which first aired the footage Sunday. “Just one by one. One after another… I mean, you are just putting live animals into the oven.”

Separately, melons contaminated with deadly listeriosis bacteria were exported to at least nine countries from Australia, where an outbreak has killed seven people and caused one miscarriage, the World Health Organization said yesterday. The rockmelons, or cantaloupes, were sent to Hong Kong, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Oman, Qatar, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, and may also have gone to the Seychelles, a WHO statement said.

Listeriosis can come in a mild form that causes diarrhoea and fever in healthy people within a few days. But it also has a severe form that can cause septicemia and meningitis among more high-risk people, such as pregnant women, infants, old people, and people having treatment for cancer, AIDS or organ transplants. The severe form has a 20-30 percent mortality rate. As well as unwashed fruit, high risk foods include dairy products made of unpasteurized milk, soft cheeses, deli meat products, ice creams, raw seafood, crustaceans and shellfish. A separate listeriosis outbreak in South Africa killed at least 180 people earlier this year, sparking a class-action lawsuit against South African food producer Tiger Brands.



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