'Crew members including Malayalis safe on Iranian-held ship,' company informs relatives

MSC Aries ship
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, 2024. Video obtained by Reuters

Thrissur: The family of Ann Tessa Joseph, who is aboard an Israel-linked cargo ship seized by Iran, received reassuring news on Sunday. The shipping company had informed Joseph's family that all individuals on board were safe.

"Everyone is safe. No one is currently facing any issues. Food provisions are available, and operations on board are continuing as usual. The ship is currently docked at a port in Iran," Ann Tessa's relatives told Manorama Online.

Among the crew held by Iran are four Malayalis: Ann Tessa Joseph from Thrissur, Shyamnath from Ramanattukara in Kozhikode, Sumesh from Palakkad, and PV Dhanesh from Wayanad. 17 out of the 25 crew members on board are Indian nationals.

Meanwhile, Shyamnath's parents Vishwanathan and Shyamala, who are yet to come to terms with the news, said that they talked to their son on Saturday.

"We are going through tough times...we have great concerns about the safety of our son. The company authorities said they could not contact the ship crew after the seizure," Vishwanathan told media. Hailing from Velliparamba in this northern district, Shyamnath has been working as a second engineer in 'MSC Aries' for the last 10 years. He last visited the hometown in September last year, parents said.

The Israeli-related cargo vessel, MSC Aries, was apprehended by Iranian forces near the Gulf of Oman in the Strait of Hormuz and subsequently taken to Iranian territorial waters via helicopter. Owned by Zodiac Maritime Company, a part of Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer's Zodiac Group, the ship is operated by Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), an Italian-Swiss firm.

India has initiated contact with Iranian authorities to ensure the safety and release of the 17 Indian crew members aboard the vessel. Additionally, the Ministry of External Affairs has put Indian Navy ships in the vicinity on high alert.

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