New Delhi: The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Saturday said it was ascertaining Iran’s claims that there are Indian nationals among 23 people who were on board the British oil tanker which was seized by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz.
“We are ascertaining their details. Our mission is in touch with the Government of Iran to secure the early release and repatriation of Indian nationals,” news agency ANI quoted the ministry as saying.
Earlier in the day, Stena Bulk, a Swedish company which owns the vessel had asserted that they have been unable to contact the ship.
Allahmorad Afifipour, director general of Ports and Maritime Affairs of Hormuzgan province had said that there are 18 Indian and five crew members from Russia, Philipines, Latvia and other countries on board of Stena Impero, the British oil tanker. The captain is Indian, but the tanker is UK-flagged, Afifipour added.
Meanwhile Britain Prime Minister Theresa May called an emergency meeting to take stock of the situation. Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that country would respond to the seizure in a ‘considered but robust’ way.
“We’re not looking at military options; we’re looking at a diplomatic way to resolve the situation. But we are very clear that it must be resolved,” Hunt stated.
Stena Bulk Statement on Seizure
“Soon after the vessel was approached by unidentified small naval craft and a helicopter during her transit of the Strait of Hormuz in international waters at approximate 1600 hrs BST today, the vessel suddenly deviated from her passage to Jubail and headed north towards Iran. The vessel was in full compliance with all navigation and international regulations. The vessel is commercially managed by Stena Bulk of Sweden,” Stena Bulk, said in a statement.
Erik Hanell, President and Chief Executive, Stena Bulk, stated,“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 remains 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.”
UK, US Condemn Seizure
Condemning the seizure, the UK said, “These seizures are unacceptable. It is essential that freedom of navigation is maintained and that all ships can move safely and freely in the region.”
United States President Donald Trump said that it proves that Iran is nothing but trouble.“This only goes to show what I’m saying about Iran. Trouble. Nothing but trouble,” he said. Furthermore, he noted, “US has very few tankers going in because we’re using a lot of our own energy,” but said the American presence in the region was still robust