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Pinoy Abroad

9 Filipinos in seized oil tanker in Red Sea back in PH

Nine Filipino seafarers on the oil tanker seized in the Gulf of Oman on January 11 have returned to the Philippines.

According to a report on Unang Balita on Monday, one of the seafarers said that there are still eight more Filipinos on the ship who are in good condition.

On February 4, one Filipino seafarer returned to the Philippines after being released by Iranian authorities, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega said two more Filipino crew are set to arrive in the country by Wednesday. 

Iran seized the Marshall Islands-flagged St. Nikolas on January 11 while it was carrying 145,000 tons of oil from Iraq to Turkey. 

Iran said it was retaliating for the "theft" of its oil from the same tanker — which at the time was called the Suez Rajan — last year by the United States.

Washington condemned what it claims is an "unlawful seizure" and demanded that Iran "immediately release the ship and its crew."

The DFA had said that the 18 Filipinos on the oil tanker will be released if they are replaced with another crew.

De Vega pointed out that the 81,200-ton vessel, not the Filipino crew, was the subject of the legal case.

According to him, the Filipinos were detained there to help maintain the oil tanker.

“Nung unang araw daw, tense ang situation kasi kinapture ‘yung barko nila. Pero after the first day or two, parang all systems normal doon sa port kung saan pinapatakbo nila ang barko,” de Vega said in a Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon interview.

(On the first day, the situation was tense because their ship was captured. But after the first day or two, it seems like all systems returned to normal at the port where they operated the ship.)—Joviland Rita/KBK/RF, GMA Integrated News