21 Pinoys evacuated from Houthi-hit ship

Emmanuel Tupas - The Philippine Star
21 Pinoys evacuated from Houthi-hit ship
This handout picture courtesy of the US Navy taken on October 19, 2023 shows the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64) defeating a combination of Houthi missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles in the Red Sea.
Photo by Aaron Lau / US Navy / AFP

MANILA, Philippines — Twenty-one of the 22 Filipino seafarers on a ship attacked by Houthi rebels while traversing the Red Sea on Wednesday were rescued on Friday night, the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) said yesterday.

The remaining seafarer, meanwhile, is believed to be in the vessel’s engine room. Migrant Workers Secretary Hans Leo Cacdac said they were assured by the rescue teams they will not stop until the missing seafarer is located.

Cacdac said combined international forces extracted the Filipinos from the M/V Tutor, which was immobilized but stable at sea.

“They were boarded onto a security forces ship and taken to safer port,” he said at a news forum in Quezon City.

The seafarers did not sustain injuries and were in good physical condition, Cacdac added.

He said the rescue operation started at around 10:30 p.m. and was over in 30 minutes.

Cacdac was mum on details on the current whereabouts of the seafarers, but said they are all safe. There is no specific timetable, but he said they are hoping to bring all of them back home soon.

President Marcos had earlier directed the DMW and other concerned agencies to monitor the situation of seafarers.

“It just boils down to finding our seafarer who is still onboard,” Cacdac said.

The attack near the Yemeni port of Hodeidah on Wednesday was the third Houthi rebel attack on a ship manned by Filipino seafarers since last year, with two Filipino sailors dying and 17 still held by militants, government data showed.

Iran-aligned Houthis claimed responsibility for the missile strike on Tutor and another vessel, Verbena, in the Gulf of Aden, over the past days.

Their attacks damaged two other ships in the last week, “marking a significant increase in effectiveness,” British security firm Ambrey said.

The Houthis have used drones and missiles to assault ships in the Red Sea, the Bab al-Mandab Strait and the Gulf of Aden since November, saying they are acting in solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza war. They have sunk one ship, seized another vessel and killed three seafarers in separate attacks.

“This situation cannot go on,” International Maritime Organization secretary-general Arsenio Dominguez said in a statement.

The Houthis’ air and sea campaign has disrupted global shipping, causing delays and costs to cascade through supply chains. At least 65 countries and major energy and shipping companies – including Shell, BP, Maersk and Cosco – have been affected, according to a report by the US Defense Intelligence Agency.

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