Indian authorities to meet crew members of ship seized by Iran soon

Ann Tessa Joseph, Shyamnath, Sumesh, Dhanesh. Photo: Special arrangement

New Delhi: Indian authorities are set to meet with the 17 Indians aboard the cargo ship seized by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz near Oman. Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has declared that permission has been granted for the meeting.

Four of the crew are Malayalis. Both the Union government and shipping company have confirmed that all onboard are safe.

Second officer P V Dhanesh (32) from Wayanad; second engineer Shyam Nath (31) from Kozhikode; third engineer S Sumesh (31) from Palakkad; and trainee Anne Tessa Joseph (21) from Thrissur are the four Malayalis on the ship. Sumesh, Ann and Shyamnath have informed their respective families that they are safe.

The Israeli-related cargo vessel, MSC Aries, was apprehended by Iranian forces. 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.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had demanded the immediate release of the Indians during a phone conversation with Iran's foreign minister. He also engaged with the Israeli minister, emphasising the necessity for both countries to step back from aggression and resume diplomatic dialogue.

The ship was seized by Iranian commandos amidst ongoing conflict with Israel. Iran has claimed that it had informed the US before launching an attack on Israel.

Israel's measured response to appeals from the US and other Western nations, urging against retaliation, has alleviated concerns of further escalation in the Middle East conflict. Iran conducted approximately 300 missile and drone strikes on Saturday in retaliation for the attack on Iran's embassy in Damascus on April 1, which resulted in the deaths of seven high-ranking officials, including a general. While the US acknowledges Iran's intent for significant destruction, it has asserted its non-participation should Israel choose to retaliate.

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