Kerala woman among 17 Indians in cargo ship seized by Iran

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There is a woman from Kerala among the 17 Indians who are onboard an Israel-linked cargo ship seized by Iran in the Gulf region, her family said on Monday.

The family of the woman, Antessa Joseph, said in a video shown on TV channels that she was also among the crew of the ship, but there was no mention of her in Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s letter to the External Affairs Ministry.

Matter taken up

Subsequently, an official in the Chief Minister’s Office said that initially there was no information on the presence of the woman. When they came to know about it, the matter was taken up with the Central government, the official said.

The Department of Non-Resident Keralites Affairs (NORKA) had also been directed to take necessary steps, the official added.

The woman’s father, in the video, said the absence of his daughter’s name in the letter caused anguish to him.

The father said that he had not received any updates from the State or the Central governments regarding his daughter’s current status. “It is the company, which owns the ship, that has informed me that my daughter is safe,” he said.

He further said that he last spoke to his daughter on Friday. “She calls every morning. When that did not happen the next day [Saturday], we tried to call her, but could not reach her. Then in the afternoon, the company which owns the ship called and told us what happened,” he said.

Meanwhile, Iran has said that Tehran will “soon” allow Indian authorities to meet the 17 Indian crew members onboard the cargo vessel.

Mr. Vijayan had on Sunday sought the intervention of the External Affairs Ministry for the safe return of the Indian nationals, including three from the State, who are onboard the vessel.

The ship, MSC Aries, was seized by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards near the Strait of Hormuz on Saturday.

As per initial reports, three among the crew — Sumesh, P.V. Dhanesh and Syamnath — were confirmed to be from Kerala. The MSC (Mediterranean Shipping Company) said it was working closely with relevant authorities for the well-being of 25 crew members and the return of the vessel.

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