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DMW: 10 Pinoy seafarers in Houthi attack safe

DMW: 10 Pinoy seafarers in Houthi attack safe
Rhodina Villanueva - March 9, 2024

MANILA, Philippines — The 10 Filipino crew members aboard the shipping vessel struck by a missile launched by Houthi rebels in the Gulf of Aden are all safe, according to the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW).

“We welcome the report that our seafarers are safe and secure, away from the dangers they faced (earlier),” said DMW officer-in-charge Hans Leo Cacdac in a statement.

“I had a video call with all 10 Filipino crew members in a Djibouti hotel and attest to their safety,” he added.

The DMW received confirmation from the ship’s manning agency that the Filipino crew are currently staying at a hotel in Djibouti City, capital of Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa.

At the same time, the agency clarified that three Filipino crewmen – not two as earlier reported – were injured in the missile attack. They are now being given medical attention at a hospital in Djibouti City and are said to be in stable condition.

DMW senior officials also met directly with the families and kin of the two Filipino seafarers who died in the attack.

“We have expressed our deepest sympathies to the families and will provide all the assistance and support needed by the families of our fallen seafarers, as directed by the President,” Cacdac said.

Cacdac ordered the DMW’s concerned regional offices and its attached agency, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, to reach out to the families of all the crew members.

The DMW also said they are communicating with their migrant workers office in the Middle East and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) as to how to personally meet with the crew.

“We are coordinating with the DFA, through its embassies and missions, as well as our migrant workers offices in the region, to ascertain the crew members’ physical and medical conditions and to provide any immediate assistance required,” Cacdac noted.

Houthi rebels based in Yemen launched a missile attack on bulk carrier True Confidence at about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday (Manila time). The vessel was some 50 nautical miles from Yemen’s port of Aden.

According to the manning agency’s report, the missile struck the vessel’s fuel bunker section, causing an explosion and engulfed the ship in flames. The crew immediately evacuated the ship to avoid further injuries.

An Indian Navy vessel, part of the international task force patrolling the volatile Red Sea-Gulf of Aden sea lanes, rescued the crew and brought them to Djibouti.

France, Japan condolences

The French and Japanese governments offered their condolences and denounced the latest attack by Houthi rebels on ships cruising the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, where two Filipinos were killed and three were injured.

“My sincere condolences to the Philippines for the tragic loss of two Filipino seafarers,” French Ambassador Marie Fontanel said in a post on X.

“France strongly condemns the lethal attack by the Houthis on the commercial vessel True Confidence in the Gulf of Aden. Houthi attacks on international maritime traffic reached a new level. They must cease,” Fontanel said.

The Japanese government has also expressed its condolences and sympathies to the Philippines over the death of the two Filipino seafarers.

“Japan expresses heartfelt condolences to the families of two Filipino seafarers who lost their lives by a missile attack,” the Japanese embassy in Manila said in a statement.

Newly designated Japanese Ambassador Endo Kazuya said that Japan stands in solidarity with the Philippines.

“Our sincere condolences to the families of the two Filipino seafarers lost to a tragic missile attack. Deep respect for their commitment abroad. Japan is steadfast in partnering with Philippines to foster lasting peace and stability worldwide,” he said. — Michael Punongbayan, Cecille Suerte Felipe