AT LEAST four Filipino seamen were onboard an Israel-linked commercial ship that Iranian troops seized at the weekend, the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) said on Sunday.

“Upon the directive of the President, we are in touch with the families of our dear seafarers and have assured them of full government support and assistance,” the DMW said in a statement.

It said it is working with the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the ship’s manning agency to ensure the safety of the Filipino seafarers.

On Saturday, Iranian armed forces seized the Portugal-flagged MSC Aries bear the Strait of Hormuz following an Israeli attack on Iran’s consulate in Syria.

Iran had launched hundreds of missiles and drones at Israel in retaliation, which wounded a seven-year-old girl and caused minor damage to an Israeli military facility. 

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp said the attack was punishment for “the Zionist entity’s crime” or attacking the Iranian consulate in Syria.

The commercial ship is associated with London-based Zodiac Maritime, which is part of the Zodiac Group run by Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer and his family.

There were about 25 crew members on board the ship composed of Indian, Filipino, Pakistani, Russian and Estonian nationals during the ship’s seizure, Al Jazeera reported.

There are about 30,000 Filipinos in Israel and 2,000 in Iran, the DFA said in a WhatsApp message.

Last week, the DFA said 18 Filipino crew members of a crude oil tanker seized by Iran in the Gulf of Oman on Jan. 11 have returned to the Philippines. — John Victor D. Ordoñez