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'Deeply concerned' over Iran's seizure of oil tanker, says UK

New Delhi, News Nation Bureau | Updated : 22 July 2019, 01:10 PM
UK has said it is deeply concerned over Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged tanker
UK has said it is deeply concerned over Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged tanker

The UK has said it is deeply concerned over Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged tanker. Tehran was defiantly ignoring mounting European appeals to free the captured oil tanker and its mostly Indian crew, as the United States prepared to redeploy troops to Iran's regional arch-rival Saudi Arabia.

Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency said the tanker was seized after it collided with a fishing boat and failed to respond to calls from the smaller craft.

It said there no reported injuries among the crew members, which also includes five Russians, a Latvian and a Filipino.

UK foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt termed the seizure as “completely unacceptable” and stressed that “freedom of navigation must be maintained”.

Erik Hanell, President and Chief Executive, Stena Bulk, said: "There are 23 seafarers onboard of Indian, Russian, Latvian and Filipino nationality.  There have been no reported injuries and the safety and welfare of our crew remains our primary focus.

"We are in close contact with both the UK and Swedish government authorities to resolve this situation and we are liaising closely with our seafarers' families," Hanell said.

In early July, British marines and Gibraltar police seized an Iranian tanker off the Southern coast of the Iberian Peninsula.

Gibraltar claimed that the ship was transporting crude oil to Syria "in violation" of the EU sanctions placed on Damascus, escalating tensions in the Gulf. 

Earlier, President Donald Trump had said a United States naval ship destroyed an Iranian drone in the Strait of Horumz after coming within its “threatening range”, a development that is likely to escalate the simmering tensions between the two countries. The incident took place at approximately 10 am local time when the amphibious ship, USS Boxer, was in the international waters conducting a planned inbound transit of the strait, Pentagon chief spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman said on Thursday.

Trump said the Boxer took defensive action against the Iranian drone, which had “closed into a very, very near distance”, approximately 1,000 yards. He said it ignored multiple calls to stand down and was threatening the safety of the ship and the crew.

“The drone was immediately destroyed. This is the latest of many provocative and hostile actions by Iran against vessels operating in international waters,” the president told reporters at the White House.

First Published: Monday, July 22, 2019 06:50 AM
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