Philippines says four Filipino sailors aboard ship seized by Iranian forces

MANILA (Xinhua): The Philippines on Sunday said four Filipino sailors were among the crew of a container ship seized by Iranian forces in the Persian Gulf on Saturday.

In a statement, the Philippines' Department of Migrant Workers confirmed the seizure of the vessel MSC Aries "with four Filipino seafarers on board," adding that it has contacted the families of the four sailors.

The Philippine government has been coordinating with the licensed manning agency, the ship manager, and the operator to ensure the seafarers' safety and well-being and work on the release, the statement said.

The Navy of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on Saturday seized the Israeli-linked, Portuguese-flagged container ship, named MSC Aries, near the Strait of Hormuz, the official news agency IRNA reported.

The Philippines is among the biggest suppliers of maritime labor in the world, providing almost one-fifth of the worldwide 1.2 million seafarers, according to International Labor Organization.

Last November, 17 Filipino seafarers were taken hostage after an Israeli cargo ship was hijacked by Yemen's Houthi militants in the Red Sea.

In March, two Filipino sailors were killed in a missile strike by Houthi militants on a cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden, off southern Yemen. - Xinhua

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