Iran on Thursday released nine out of 12 Indians who were on board the ship MT Riah that was detained in early July.
However, 21 Indians are still in detention in Iran — three from MT Riah and 18 from British oil tanker Stena Impero which was seized last week by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in the Strait of Hormuz for alleged violation of international maritime rules.
Meanwhile, the Indian embassy in Tehran on Tuesday got the consular access to the 18 Indians who were on board Stena Impero.
Also, 24 Indian crew members, who were on board shipping vessel “Grace 1”, which was detained by Gibraltar police authorities, are also under detention.
Indian officials have met the 24 Indian crew members who were on board shipping vessel “Grace 1” and assured them that the government will take necessary steps to ensure their release and repatriation, the External Affairs Ministry said Thursday.
Iranian oil tanker “Grace 1” was seized off the Spanish coast earlier this month by British marines and Gibraltar police.
A team of the Indian High Commission in London met the Indian crew and staff on board VLCC Grace 1 on Wednesday, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said.
“Crew’s morale is high. Assured all assistance for early release. HCI London will facilitate necessary travel document and related arrangements,” the minister tweeted.
Received an update on ‘Stena Impero’. Our Embassy availed consular access today evening. All 18 Indian crew members on board are safe and doing fine. Will continue to push for their early release. @narendramodi @PMOIndia @AmitShah @DrSJaishankar @MEAIndia @VMBJP pic.twitter.com/YqtFupLuZA
— V. Muraleedharan (@MOS_MEA) July 25, 2019
MEA Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, at a media briefing in Delhi, said India had sought consular access which was granted on Wednesday and a three-member team visited and met all the 24 crew members.
“What we saw was that the crew members were very calm, very composed, and there was no sense of panic. They had been in regular touch with their family members. We had assured them that the government of India will undertake all the necessary steps to ensure their early release and repatriation,” Kumar said.
Eighteen Indians, including the captain, and nationals from the Philippines, Latvia and Russia were on board the Stena Impero when Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) seized the tanker in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday for breaking “international maritime rules” as tensions mount in the highly sensitive waterway.
Meanwhile, Iran has opened an investigation into the Stena Impero tanker as it alleged that the ship collided with a fishing vessel in the Strait of Hormuz.
The latest incident came as President Donald Trump insisted Friday that the US military had downed an Iranian drone that was threatening an American naval vessel in the Strait of Hormuz, despite denials from Tehran.