Kerala Woman Among 17 Indian Crew Members Of Seized Ship Returns Home

The only woman on the 17 Indian crew members of an Israeli-affiliated cargo ship that Iran seized was freed on Thursday. The Indian government is working with Iranian officials to make sure the safety of the other sailors.

After being freed thanks to the “concerted efforts” of the Indian embassy in Tehran and the Iranian government, Ann Tessa Joseph, who is from Thrissur in Kerala, flew into Cochin international airport on Thursday afternoon. This was announced by the ministry of foreign affairs.

The 25-person crew of the container ship MSC Aries was taken over by a special forces team of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on April 13. The 17 Indians were on board. This week, Iran’s foreign ministry said that the freighter was taken away because it broke maritime rules.

In a post on X, Randhir Jaiswal, a spokesman for the External Affairs Ministry, said that the Indian embassy helped Joseph get back to India with the “support of Iranian authorities.” The government is in touch with Iran to make sure the remaining 16 Indian crew members are safe, he said.

Jaiswal shared a picture of Joseph being greeted by the regional visa officer at Cochin airport.

The foreign affairs ministry said that the Indian embassy in Tehran “remains seized of the matter” and is in touch with the 16 Indian crew members who are still on board. The crew members are healthy and in touch with their families in India.

On April 14, S. Jaishankar, the minister of external affairs, talked on the phone with Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, the minister of external affairs for Iran, about freeing the Indian sailors. Jaishankar told Iran that he was worried about the crew members’ situation and asked them to help. At the time, Amir-Abdollahian said that Indian officials would be able to meet the Indian crew members.

The master of the Portuguese-flagged cargo ship is one of the Indian crew members. One Russian and one Estonian are also on the team. There are four Filipinos and two Pakistanis.

The Italian-Swiss shipping company MSC said it is working with the right people to make sure the crew is safe.

The ship is connected to Zodiac Maritime in London. Zodiac Maritime is a part of Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer’s Zodiac Group.

Indian ships with Indian crew members have been attacked by Iran’s proxy forces, like the Houthi fighters in Yemen, several times since the conflict between Israel and Hamas began.

Since tensions between Iran and Israel have been rising, India told its people not to travel to either country last week. As well, it told all Indians living in the two countries to take “utmost precautions.”

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