14 Apr 2024

India Engages with Iran for Release of Indian Crew from Seized Ship

In the latest development, India has initiated communication with Iranian authorities to secure the prompt release and safety of 17 Indian crew members who are part of the 25-member team aboard a cargo vessel seized by Iranian forces, as per sources familiar with the situation.

Reports suggest that a specialized unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) conducted an operation to gain control of the container ship MSC Aries in the Gulf of Hormuz, approximately 80 km off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.

An anonymous source stated, "We are aware of the situation where the cargo ship MSC Aries has been seized by Iran, with 17 Indian nationals among the crew."

Indian officials are actively coordinating with Iranian counterparts through diplomatic channels in Tehran and New Delhi to ensure the well-being, security, and swift return of the Indian crew members.

The Italian-Swiss shipping conglomerate MSC confirmed the presence of 25 crew members on board the vessel. MSC Aries was reportedly boarded by Iranian authorities via helicopter as it traversed the Strait of Hormuz at around 0243 UTC.

MSC asserted that they are collaborating closely with relevant authorities to guarantee the welfare and safe repatriation of the crew members.

The Indian contingent on the Portuguese-flagged and Israel-affiliated cargo vessel include the ship's master. Crew members from the Philippines, Pakistan, Russia, and Estonia are also on the ship.

The ship is linked to London-based Zodiac Maritime, a subsidiary of the Zodiac Group owned by Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer.

In a dramatic maneuver, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commandos descended from a helicopter onto the container ship near the Strait of Hormuz, seizing control amidst escalating tensions between Iran and Israel.

In response to the heightened tensions, India issued an advisory urging its citizens to refrain from travel to Iran or Israel and advised Indian nationals residing in these countries to exercise extreme caution.

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