Iran Seizes Container Ship with 17 Indian Crew Members Amid Rising Tensions

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Iran Seizes Container Ship with 17 Indian Crew Members Amid Rising Tensions

| Updated: April 13, 2024 19:58

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards seized a container ship, MCS Aries, with 25 crew members onboard, on Saturday, 17 of whom are Indian, according to sources. The ship was seized near the Strait of Hormuz in a “heliborne operation” and is now en route to Iran’s territorial waters, as reported by Iran’s state-owned IRNA news agency.

“We are aware that Iran has taken control of the cargo ship ‘MSC Aries’. We have learnt that there are 17 Indian nationals onboard. We are in touch with the Iranian authorities through diplomatic channels, both in Tehran and in Delhi, to ensure the security, welfare and early release of the Indian nationals,” a source stated.

The ship’s operator, the Italian-Swiss group MSC, confirmed the boarding by Iranian authorities. “We regret to confirm that MSC Aries, owned by Gortal Shipping Inc, which is affiliated to Zodiac Maritime and chartered to MSC, has been boarded by Iranian authorities via helicopter. She has 25 crew onboard and we are working closely with the relevant authorities to ensure their wellbeing and the safe return of the vessel,” the company said in a statement.

The seizure comes amid escalating tensions in the Middle East, with fears of an Iranian attack on Israel following an airstrike on the consular section of Iran’s embassy in Syria’s Damascus nearly two weeks ago, which resulted in seven casualties, including two generals.

Iran has claimed that the vessel is “related to the Zionist regime (Israel) in the Gulf”. Shipping traffic trackers, and, have identified MSC Aries as a Portuguese-flagged container ship, with its last reported position in the Gulf.

Following the seizure, the Israeli army issued a stern warning against further escalation in the region. “Iran will bear the consequences for choosing to escalate the situation any further,” military spokesman Daniel Hagari said in a statement. He added, “Iran is the world’s biggest state sponsor of terror… Israel is on high alert. We have increased our readiness to protect Israel from further Iranian aggression. We are also prepared to respond.”

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