Filipino seamen held by Somali pirates rise to 109

THE Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) confirmed reports that Filipinos were among the crewmen of a bulk carrier that was seized by Somali pirates last Saturday.

The DFA said the Philippine Embassy in Manama Bharain had verified the reports and confirmed that two Filipinos were with 25 Algerian and Ukranian crew of the hijacked Algerian-flagged MV Blida.

With the latest hijacking, the number of Filipino seafarers being held captive by Somali pirates has risen to 109 who are on board 10 vessels, according to the DFA.

The attack happened when the vessel was approximately 150 nautical miles southeast of the port of Salalah in Oman enroute to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.

The DFA, however, did not identify the Filipinos, but said it was doing everything to ensure the early and safe release of the seamen.

“The DFA-OUMWA (Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs) continues to coordinate closely with the concerned Philippine Embassies, the vessels’ principals and the local manning agencies for the early and safe release of the seafarers,” the DFA said in a statement.

“The families of the seafarers are already appraised of the incident,” it added.

The latest attack happened five days after another cargo ship with eight seafarers, including six Filipinos, was seized by pirates about 175 nautical miles off the coast of Oman.

German freighter MV EMS River was en route to Greece when it was seized by Somalis last December 27.

In November, the pirates also seized five ships in various parts of the Indian Ocean bringing to 42 the number of carriers that Somalis hijacked last year.

The DFA has repeatedly reminded ships manned by Filipino seafarers to stay within secure area corridors while traversing the Gulf of Aden, a vital waterway for shipping also known as the “Pirate Alley.”

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