Kerala woman among 17 Indian crew members of ship seized by Iran returns home | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Kerala woman among 17 Indian crew members of ship seized by Iran returns home

Apr 19, 2024 06:34 AM IST

Ann Tessa Joseph, who belongs to Thrissur in Kerala, flew into Cochin international airport on Thursday afternoon

New Delhi: The only woman among 17 Indian crew members of an Israel-affiliated cargo vessel seized by Iran was released on Thursday, and the Indian side is working with Iranian authorities to ensure the well-being of the remaining seafarers.

The external affairs ministry said Indian deck cadet Ann Tessa Joseph from Thrissur, Kerala, a member of the crew on vessel MSC Aries returned home today. (X/MEAIndia)
The external affairs ministry said Indian deck cadet Ann Tessa Joseph from Thrissur, Kerala, a member of the crew on vessel MSC Aries returned home today. (X/MEAIndia)

Ann Tessa Joseph, who belongs to Thrissur in Kerala, flew into Cochin international airport on Thursday afternoon after she was freed through the “concerted efforts” of the Indian embassy in Tehran and the Iranian government, the external affairs ministry said in a statement.

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The 17 Indians were part of the 25-member crew of the container ship MSC Aries, which was seized by a special forces unit of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in the Strait of Hormuz on April 13. Iran’s foreign ministry said this week that the freighter was seized for violating maritime laws.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said in a post on X that the Indian embassy facilitated Joseph’s return to India with the “support of Iranian authorities”. The embassy is in touch with the Iranian side to ensure the well-being of the remaining 16 Indian crew members, he said.

Jaiswal posted a photo of Joseph being received at Cochin airport by the regional passport officer.

The Indian embassy in Tehran “remains seized of the matter” and is in touch with the remaining 16 Indian crew members”, who are in good health and in contact with their family members in India, the external affairs ministry said.

External affairs minister S Jaishankar had raised the release of the Indian seafarers with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian during a phone conversation on April 14. Jaishankar expressed his concern about the situation of the crew members and requested assistance from Iran. Amir-Abdollahian had said at the time that Indian officials will be allowed to meet the Indian crew members.

The Indian crew members on board the Portuguese-flagged cargo vessel include the ship’s master. The crew also has four Filipinos, two Pakistanis, one Russian and one Estonian.

The Italian-Swiss shipping group MSC has said it is working with the relevant authorities to ensure the wellbeing of the crew. The ship is associated with London-based Zodiac Maritime, part of Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer’s Zodiac Group.

Since the start of the Israel-Hamas conflict, India has taken action several times to protect ships with Indian crew members that were targeted by Iran’s proxy forces such as the Houthi rebels of Yemen.

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

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