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The strike on Tutor from Yemeni militants left the vessel unable to manoeuvre, while one crew member remains missing

The crew of a Greek-owned vessel damaged in an attack by Yemen’s Houthi militants has been evacuated and the abandoned ship is drifting in the Red Sea, according to the UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO).

One crew member from Tutor, the Liberia-flagged coal carrier, remains missing, officials in the Philippines said, after an attack near the Yemeni port of Hodeidah on Wednesday caused severe flooding and damage to the engine room, leaving the vessel unable to manoeuvre.

The Iran-aligned Houthis have claimed responsibility for the missile strike on Tutor and another vessel, Verbena, in the Gulf of Aden, over the past days. Their attacks also damaged two other ships in the past week, “marking a significant increase in effectiveness”, British security firm Ambrey said.

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The Houthis have used drones and missiles to target ships in the Red Sea, the Bab al-Mandab Strait and the Gulf of Aden since November, in what they say is solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza war. They have sunk one ship, seized another vessel and killed three seafarers in separate attacks.

“This situation cannot go on,” the International Maritime Organisation’s secretary general, Arsenio Dominguez, said in a statement.

Tutor’s 22 crew members are mostly Filipino, the Philippine Department of Migrant Workers secretary, Hans Cacdac, told a press conference in Manila.
The Philippine president, Ferdinand Marcos Jr, said the country’s authorities were coordinating with the UKMTO to take the crew members to Djibouti and bring them home.

The missing crew member was believed to be trapped in the engine room, maritime sources said.

“We are still … trying to account for the particular seafarer in that ship,” Cacdac said. “We are praying we could find him.”

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

Tsavliris Salvage Group had been assigned to tow the ship, which was carrying 80,000 tonnes of coal, a source with knowledge of the matter told the news agency. The project would involve two vessels. The first was expected to reach Tutor on Monday morning and the second on Tuesday evening.

The Houthis’ air and sea campaign has disrupted global shipping, causing delays and costs to cascade through supply chains. At least 65 countries and major energy and shipping companies – including Shell, BP, Maersk and Cosco – have been affected, according to a report from US intelligence.

Among the most notable attacks, the Houthis stormed and hijacked a vehicle-carrier, the Galaxy Leader, in November, later opening it as a tourist attraction for propaganda purposes.

In March, the Rubymar bulk carrier, carrying thousands of tonnes of fertiliser, sank in the Red Sea after its hull was damaged in a Houthi missile strike.
Intercargo, which represents dry cargo shipowners, urged states to enhance maritime security in the area. “We demand that all involved parties cease their deliberate and targeted attacks on innocent seafarers with immediate effect,” it said.

Reuters and Agence France-Presse contributed to this report

Source: the guardian.com