18 Indians aboard tanker seized by Iran

Updated: Jul 21, 2019, 12:37 IST | Agencies

Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson said details are being ascertained

18 Indians aboard tanker seized by Iran
Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar. Pic/PTI

New Delhi/Tehran: Eighteen Indians, including the ship's captain, are among 23 crew members of a British-flagged oil tanker seized by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz amid heightened tensions in the Gulf. India said on Saturday it is in touch with Tehran for the release of the Indian sailors.

Iran on Friday seized the British-flagged Stena Impero, which has Indians, Russians, Latvians and Filipinos working as crew. Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said that further details of the incident are being ascertained. "Our Mission is in touch with the Government of Iran to secure the early release and repatriation of Indian nationals."

A news agency quoted Allahmorad Afifipour, Director General of Ports and Maritime Affairs of Hormuzgan province, as saying: "There are 18 Indian and five crew members from Russia, Philippines, Latvia and other countries on board of Stena Impero. The captain is Indian, but the tanker is UK-flagged.

"Stena Impero crashed into a fishing vessel," he said, adding that the captain of the vessel tried to make contact with the UK tanker, but there was no signal. Stena Bulk, the shipping company that owns the vessel, said in a statement, that the tanker was "approached by unidentified small crafts and a helicopter during transit of the Strait of Hormuz while the vessel was in international waters."

"We are presently unable to contact the vessel which is now heading north towards Iran," it added. Iran's Revolutionary Guard forces, in a statement on their website, said the ship was seized for "non-compliance with international maritime laws and regulations" and was being brought to an unnamed Iranian port. The vessel sailing to Saudi Arabia was seen changing its course and heading north towards the Iranian island of Qeshm, marine tracking data showed.

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