Rescue is underway for the crew of a Greek-owned ship struck by Houthis, the Philippines says

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By Neil Jerome Morales and Jonathan Saul

MANILA/LONDON (Reuters) – The crew of the Greek ship Tutor, which was damaged in an attack by Yemeni Houthi militants in the Red Sea, should be rescued within a day, although one sailor remains missing, the Philippines said Friday.

The attack near the Yemeni port of Hodeidah on Wednesday caused severe flooding and damage to the engine room, rendering the Tutor, a Liberian-flagged coal ship, unable to maneuver. The animal took in water and needed rescue.

The Iran-aligned Houthis have in recent days claimed responsibility for the missile attack on the Tutor and other ships including the MV Verbena in the Gulf of Aden.

The Houthis have carried out repeated drone and missile attacks on ships in the Red Sea, the Bab al-Mandab Strait and the Gulf of Aden since November, saying they are acting in solidarity with the Palestinians in the Gaza war.

The 22 crew members aboard the Tutor are mostly Filipino, Hans Cacdac, secretary of the Philippine Department of Migrant Workers, told a news conference in Manila.

“Rescue will take place within a day,” he said, adding that he could not release further information for security reasons.

Philippine President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said the country’s authorities were working with the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) to transport the crew members to Djibouti and back home.

The missing crew member is believed to be trapped in the engine room, maritime sources said. The rest of the crew was “safe and sound” and had adequate food supplies, Cacdac said, citing the captain.

“At this time, we are still trying to identify or try to explain the specific seafarer on that ship. We are praying that we can find him,” Cacdac said.

The ship’s Athens-based manager, Evalend Shipping, did not respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.

The Houthi campaign in the Red Sea region has disrupted global shipping, causing delays and costs through supply chains. The militants sank one ship, seized another and killed three seafarers in separate attacks.

Thursday’s attack on the Verbena, which caused a fire and damaged the ship, was the second direct hit on a merchant ship in two days after Tutor.

The attacks prompted the UKMTO to assess that the Houthis’ tactics may have changed since most companies diverted their ships around the bottom of Africa.

It said they appeared to have expanded their scope by targeting companies with fleets that may have called at an Israeli port since early May.

“Any ship within a corporate structure that meets these broader criteria and operates in the Red Sea or Gulf of Aden could be at risk,” the UKMTO said.

INTERCARGO, which represents dry cargo ship owners, urged states to improve maritime security in the area.

“We demand that all parties involved immediately cease their deliberate and targeted attacks on innocent seafarers,” the report said.

InterManager, which represents the ship management sector, also called on governments to do more.

“Commercial ships and innocent seafarers must be allowed safe passage as they go about their regular business of transporting commerce around the world,” the report said.

(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales in Manila and Renee Maltezou and Yannis Souliotis in Athens, Jonathan Saul in London, Adam Makary in Cairo; Writing by Renee Maltezou; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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