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17 Indians onboard ship ‘MSC Aries’ seized by Iran, New Delhi presses diplomatic channels


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The seized by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in the Gulf has 17 Indians on board and India is already in touch with the Iranian authorities to ensure security, welfare and the early release of the Indians, official sources said on Wednesday, as reported by news agencies. “We are aware that a cargo ship ‘MSC Aries’ has been taken control by Iran. We have learnt that there are 17 Indian nationals onboard,” said a source.

An official slides down a rope during a helicopter raid on MSC Aries ship.(via REUTERS)

“We are in touch with the Iranian authorities through diplomatic channels, both in Tehran and in Delhi, to ensure security, welfare and early release of Indian nationals,” it said.

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Iran-Israel tension: Tehran says it has seized Israel-linked container ship near Hormuz Strait | Latest updates

The development came amid escalating tension between Israel and Iran. Iran said the ship was related to the “zionist regime”. The ship’s operator, the Italian-Swiss group MSC, confirmed that Iranian authorities boarded the ship.

What we know about MSC Aries, its Israel connection: How has it been seized

The operation took place near the Strait of Hormuz and the ship was then directed towards the territorial waters of Iran, Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency reported. MSC group said the ship was boarded by Iranian authorities via helicopter when it was passing the Stait of Hormuz on Saturday morning. The Strait of Hormuz connects the Gulf with the Indian Ocean and, according to the US Energy Information Administration, more than a fifth of annual global oil consumption passes through it each year.

Vessel tracking websites, vesselfinder.com and marinetraffic.com, say MSC Aries is a Portuguese-flagged container ship and gave its last reported position as in the Gulf.

MSC leases the Aries from Gortal Shipping, an affiliate of Zodiac Maritime, Zodiac said in a statement, adding that MSC is responsible for all the vessel’s activities. Zodiac is partly owned by Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer.

India on Friday issued a travel advisory urging Indian nationals to not go to Iran or Israel. “All those who are currently residing in Iran or Israe are requested to get in touch with Indian Embassies there and register themselves,” the MEA advisory said.

Israel-Iran tension stemmed from the ongoing Israel-Hamas war in which Iran supported the Hamas. Yemen’s Iran-backed Huthi rebels have carried out dozens of missile and drone attacks against shipping in the Red Sea, and in November seized an Israel-linked cargo vessel, the Galaxy Leader.

(With agency inputs)

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