Iranian officials say crew of captured British oil tanker are safe….reports Asian Lite News
All 23 crew members, majority Indians, of the seized British oil tanker “Stena Impero” are “safe and in good health,” the head of the Ports and Maritime Organisation of Iran told Iranian state TV on Sunday.
Despite being escorted by a British warship, the oil tanker was stopped on Friday by Iran and was led to the coastal harbour for a legal investigation, Xinhua news agency quoted Iran’s IRNA news agency as saying.
Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) seized the British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz for what it called “failing to respect the international maritime rules while passing through the strait.”
The tanker has crew members of Indian, Russian, Latvian and Filipino nationalities aboard.
The spokesman for the IRGC has condemned the British oil tanker’s action on Saturday, saying there was a risk of collision because of the tanker’s wrong direction, adding that Iran is acting legally and within the bounds of its national sovereignty in the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.
Meanwhile, Indian Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan on Sunday said that India was engaged in talks with Iran to secure the release of the 18 Indian sailors on board the British-flagged oil tanker, which has been seized by the Iranian Navy in the Strait of Hormuz amid heightened tensions in the Gulf.
The British-flagged Stena Impero was seized on Friday. Of its 23-member crew, comprising Indians, Russians, Latvians and Filipinos, 18 are Indians — three of whom, including the Captain, are from Kerala.
Muraleedharan told the media that despite engaging in talks with Tehran and Iranian officials in Delhi, they did not have names of the Indian crew members.
“We are waiting for the details officially, we are in touch with the shipping company too,” said Muraleedharan.
Papachen, father of crew member Dijo Papachen, said that Stena Bulk, the company that owns the vessel, on Friday night informed his family that the ship has been taken into custody by Iran for violating international shipping routes.
“On Friday morning, Dijo spoke to his mother and since then there has been no word from him. He joined the shipping company a month back and had conveyed to his mother that are two more members from Kerala, including the Captain,” said Papachen.