Explosion near vessel in Red Sea off Yemen, security firm says

CAIRO (Reuters) -A merchant vessel reported an explosion took place near it in the Red Sea on Thursday about 19 nautical miles west of the Yemeni port city of Mokha, British security firm Ambrey said.

Separately, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) said it had been informed of two explosions near a vessel 27 miles south of Mokha.

There was no damage reported, all crew were safe and the vessel was proceeding to its next port of call, the UKMTO said in a statement.

It was unclear whether the incidents reported by Ambrey and UKMTO were the same.

The vessel described by Ambrey fit the target profile of Yemeni Houthi militants, who have attacked ships off the country's coast for several months, it said in a note.

It was en route from Europe to the United Arab Emirates and was not transmitting an Automatic Identification System signal at the time, Ambrey said. It gave no other details.

The U.S. military said on Thursday it successfully destroyed eight drones and two uncrewed surface vessels launched by the Houthis in the Red Sea over the past 24 hours. It also said the Houthis launched one anti-ship ballistic missile over the Red Sea. There were no injuries or damage reported by U.S., coalition, or commercial ships, it added.

Houthis have made repeated drone and missile strikes on ships in the crucial shipping channels of the Red Sea, the Bab al-Mandab Strait and the Gulf of Aden since November.

This has forced shippers to re-route cargo to longer and more expensive journeys around southern Africa and has stoked fears that the Israel-Hamas war could spread and destabilise the Middle East.

The Houthi militia, which controls the most populous parts of Yemen and is aligned with Iran, says it is acting in solidarity with Palestinians fighting Israel in Gaza.

(Reporting by Enas Alashray, Yomna Ehab and Ahmed Tolba; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Sonali Paul and Jamie Freed)