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Indian woman from Kerala, part of crew of Iran-captured MSC Aries, reaches home

Joseph was part of the crew of Indians who were onboard the Israeli-linked MSC Aries vessel when it was seized by Iranian authorities. The Indian mission in Iran is in touch with authorities to ensure the well-being of the other 16 crew members.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Kochi Updated on: April 18, 2024 19:06 IST
Indian crew, Iran, Indian woman, MSC Aries
Image Source : MEA (X) Ann Tessa Joseph, part of the MSC Aries ship, at the Cochin International Airport in Kerala.

Kochi: Indian deck cadet Ann Tessa Joseph, who was part of the Indian crew on the MSC Aries vessel captured by Iran a few days ago, has returned to India, said the Ministry of External Affairs on Wednesday. Joseph landed safely at the Cochin International Airport on Wednesday afternoon and was received by the Regional Passport Officer.

"With the concerted efforts of Indian Mission in Tehran and the Iranian Government, Indian deck cadet Ms Ann Tessa Joseph from Thrissur, Kerala, who was among the Indian crew members of container vessel MSC Aries, has landed safely at the Cochin International Airport today afternoon," the MEA said in a statement. It further said that the Indian mission in Tehran is in touch with the remaining 16 crew members of the container vessel.

"The crew members are in good health and in contact with their family members in India. Indian Mission is also in touch with the Iranian authorities in ensuring the well being of the remaining crew members of MSC Aries," it added. Earlier, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had spoken to his Iranian counterpart Foreign Minister Amir Abdollahian on the matter.

"Great work, @India_in_Iran. Glad that Ms. Ann Tessa Joseph has reached home. #ModiKiGuarantee always delivers, at home or abroad," Jaishankar posted on X.

Iran allowed Indian officials to meet crew

In response to the recent seizure of an Israeli ship by Iran, the Indian government had initiated efforts to meet with the 17 Indian crew members aboard the vessel. The Indian government has been coordinating efforts to arrange a meeting with the Indian crew members to assess their condition and provide necessary assistance.

A post on X by Jaishankar said he spoke to his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. "Took up the release of 17 Indian crew members of MSC Aries. Discussed the current situation in the region. Stressed the importance of avoiding escalation, exercising restraint and returning to diplomacy," he said, adding that India and Iran have agreed to "remain in touch".

Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R Hari Kumar confirmed that the cargo vessel, MSC Aries, en route to an Indian port, was seized by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards after clearing the Strait of Hormuz. Admiral Kumar outlined the Indian Navy’s vigilance in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, underscoring efforts to safeguard maritime trade routes amidst regional tensions.

Why did Iran seize the vessel?

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) seized an Israeli-linked cargo ship in the Strait of Hormuz on Saturday (April 13), according to the state-controlled IRNA news agency, just before it launched an unprecedented barrage of missiles and drones at Israel. This came after Tehran warned it could close the area to sea traffic amid tensions with the West at a time when the Middle East was bracing for an Iranian retaliation for a suspected Israeli strike earlier this month on an Iranian consular building in Syria that killed 12 people, including a senior Guard general who once commanded its expeditionary Quds Force.

The captured vessel is linked to London-based Zodiac Maritime, which is part of Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer's Zodiac Group. Zodiac declined to comment and referred questions to MSC. A Middle East defence official shared a video of the attack with the Associated Press, where commandos were seen rappelling down onto a stack of containers sitting on the deck of the vessel. Israel's military spokesperson, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, said "Iran will bear consequences for choosing to escalate this situation any further", in response to reports of the seizure of MSC Aries. 

As many as 17 Indian nationals were onboard the cargo ship which was taken control of by Iran off the coast of the UAE. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote a letter to External Affairs Minister Jaishankar to ensure the safety of Indian nationals, including those from Kerala, onboard the Israel-linked ship 'MSC Aries' in the Strait of Hormuz.

(with inputs from agencies)

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