India in touch with Iran for release of Indian crew members of seized ship | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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India in touch with Iran for release of Indian crew members of seized ship

Apr 13, 2024 10:16 PM IST

Commandos from the IRGC rappelled down from a helicopter to the container ship near the Strait of Hormuz and seized the vessel.

NEW DELHI: India is in touch with Iranian authorities to ensure the security and early release of 17 Indian nationals who are among the 25-member crew of a cargo ship seized by Iranian troops, people familiar with the matter said on Saturday.

An official slides down a rope during a helicopter raid on MSC Aries ship at sea in this screen grab obtained from a social media video released on April 13 (via REUTERS)
An official slides down a rope during a helicopter raid on MSC Aries ship at sea in this screen grab obtained from a social media video released on April 13 (via REUTERS)

A special forces unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) carried out the operation to take control of the container ship MSC Aries in the Gulf of Hormuz, about 80 km off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, according to media reports.

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“We are aware that the cargo ship MSC Aries has been taken control of by Iran. We have learnt that there are 17 Indian nationals on board,” one of the people cited above said on condition of anonymity.

The Indian side is in touch with Iranian authorities through diplomatic channels, both in Tehran and New Delhi, to ensure the security, welfare and early release of the Indian nationals, the people said.

The Italian-Swiss shipping group MSC said in a statement that there were 25 crew members on board the container ship. It said MSC Aries has been “boarded by Iranian authorities via helicopter as she passed the Strait of Hormuz at approximately 0243 UTC this morning”.

MSC said it is “working closely with the relevant authorities to ensure their wellbeing, and safe return of the vessel”.

The 17 Indians on board the Portuguese-flagged and Israel-affiliated cargo vessel include the master. The crew also includes four Filipinos, two Pakistanis, one Russian and one Estonian.

The ship is associated with London-based Zodiac Maritime, which is part of Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer’s Zodiac Group.

Commandos from the IRGC rappelled down from a helicopter to the container ship near the Strait of Hormuz and seized the vessel, amid a sharp spike in tensions between Iran and Israel.

India on Friday issued an advisory urging its citizens not to travel to Iran or Israel following the rise in tensions between, and asked all Indian nationals living in the two countries to observe “utmost precautions”.

The advisory was issued against the backdrop of a growing number of reports about an Iranian attack on Israel or Israeli interests in retaliation for the Israeli air strike on an Iranian diplomatic compound in Syria on April 1 that killed seven people, including a top general of the IRGC.

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