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Sat, 24 Aug 2019

Northeast Today

18 Indians onboard British vessel in Iran’s custody

18 Indians onboard British vessel in Iran’s custody
July 20
13:24 2019

NET Bureau

Eighteen Indian nationals are among the 23 people on board the British oil vessel seized by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz, the tanker’s operator Stena Bulk, said Saturday. The operator confirmed that the Swedish-owned vessel Stena Impero was “no longer under the control of the crew and remains uncontactable”.

“There are 23 seafarers onboard of Indian, Russian, Latvian and Filipino nationality. There have been no reported injuries and the safety and welfare of our crew remain our primary focus. We are in close contact with both the UK and Swedish government authorities to resolve this situation and we are liaising closely with our seafarers’ families,” Erik Hanell, president and chief executive of Stena Bulk, said in a statement.

The impoundment of the tanker by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard came a day after the United States said it had downed an Iranian drone menacing a US warship in the region. However, confirming that it seized a British oil tanker on Friday, Iran denied Washington’s assertion that the US Navy had downed an Iranian drone nearby this week, as tensions in the Gulf region rose again.

The company said the vessel was heading towards Saudi Arabia. Britain said it was urgently seeking information about the tanker, which suddenly changed course after passing through the strait at the mouth of the Gulf. “We will respond in a way that is considered but robust and we are absolutely clear that if this situation is not resolved quickly there will be serious consequences,” Reuters quoted British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt as saying. He also said Britain was “not looking at military options, we are looking at a diplomatic way to resolve the situation.”

Relations between US and Iran worsened last year when Donald Trump abandoned a 2015 nuclear deal between world powers and Iran. Under the pact, Iran agreed to restrict nuclear work, long seen by the West as a cover for developing atomic bombs, in return for lifting sanctions. But sanctions have been imposed again, badly hurting Iran’s economy. Trump said he would talk to Britain about Friday’s seizure, which drove oil prices up above $62 a barrel.

Source: The Indian Express

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