Iran has released 9 out of 12 Indian crew members who were on board the ship MT Riah that was detained in the first week of July. The UAE ship was seized by the Iranian authorities for allegedly smuggling Iranian fuel.
Around 45 Indian crew members from three vessels -- MT Riah, Stena Impero and Grace 1 -- have been detained by the UK and Iran authorities over alleged violations of international maritime security regulations.
British authorities detained Iranian tanker Grace 1 in Gibraltar earlier this month based on suspicion that the vessel was carrying oil to Syria, violating European Union sanctions. The ship had as many as 24 Indian crew members.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guards seized a British oil tanker, Stena Impero, which had 18 Indians on board. Another UAE-owned ship MT Riah, carrying 12 Indians, was also detained by Iran for smuggling oil from the country.
While nine Indian crew members of MT Riah were released on Thursday, the remaining three Indian nationals including the captain of the ship are in the process of being repatriated, according to officials.
The crew members detained in Grace 1, which includes 24 Indians, were earlier granted consular access by the UK. A team comprising Indian diplomats in London met the Indian crew and staff on board Grace 1, said the Ministry of External Affairs.
"What we saw was the crew members were very calm, very composed. There was no sense of panic, they were doing fine," MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar told reporters on Thursday:
"They have been in regular touch with their family members. We assured them that the government of India would take all necessary steps to ensure their early release and repatriation", he added.
The 18 Indian crew members on board the Iranian seized tanker, Stena Impero, were also granted consular access by Iranian authorities on Thursday, said Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan.
All of them are fine, the minister said, adding India will continue to take necessary steps to ensure their early release and repatriation.