New Delhi: India on Saturday said it was in touch with the Iranian government for the early release and repatriation of Indian nationals who were part of the crew of 23 people who have been detained onboard the Stena Impero British oil tanker, currently anchored at the Bandar Abbas port.
India on Saturday said it was in touch with Iran for the early release and repatriation of Indian nationals who were part of the crew of 23 people who have been detained onboard the Stena Impero British oil tanker, currently anchored at the Bandar Abbas port.
This came after Iran said it seized the vessel in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday after it collided with an Iranian fishing boat. Tehran said the British vessel failed to respond to the boat’s “distress call".
“We are ascertaining further details on the incident. Our Mission is in touch with the Government of Iran to secure the early release and repatriation of Indian nationals," the Indian foreign ministry said in a statement.
The tanker Stena Impero was taken to an Iranian port because it was not complying with “international maritime laws and regulations," Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said on Friday, according to news reports.
Britain has said Iran's seizure of the British-flagged vessel and a Liberian-flagged vessel in the Strait of Hormuz was unacceptable and called for freedom of navigation in the Gulf.
Earlier, a statement from Stena Bulk, which owns the tanker, said it was unable to contact the ship after it was approached by unidentified vessels and a helicopter in the Strait of Hormuz.
The company said the tanker, with 23 crew members aboard, was in international waters when it was approached but subsequently appeared to be heading toward Iran.
The incident came just two days after Washington claimed that a US warship downed an Iranian drone in the Strait. Iran denied that it lost an aircraft in the area.
On 20 June, Iran shot down an American drone in the same waterway, and the US came close to retaliating but called off an airstrike at the last moment.
Tensions in the region have been growing since the Trump administration withdrew a year ago from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. After the withdrawal, the US imposed harsh sanctions, including on Tehran’s oil trade, that have sent the Iranian economy into a tailspin.