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24 Indians onboard seized Iranian tanker Grace 1 released by Gibraltar: MEA

The Iranian tanker Grace 1 was detained off the coast of British Territory Gibraltar for allegedly carrying oil to Syria that would have violated sanctions on the country. 

24 Indians onboard seized Iranian tanker Grace 1 released by Gibraltar: MEA

New Delhi: Gibraltar authorities have released all 24 Indian sailors onboard Iranian oil tanker Grace 1 that was taken into custody on July 4. The Iranian tanker Grace 1 was detained off the coast of British Territory Gibraltar for allegedly carrying oil to Syria that would have violated sanctions on the country. 

Confirming the development, V Muraleedharan, Minister of State for External Affairs, said, "Spoke to our High Commission @HCI_London, on VLCC Grace 1. They confirmed all 24 Indian crew aboard VLCC Grace 1 have been released by Gibraltar authorities and are free to return to India."

The Indian Captain of Grace 1 supertanker also said that he is ''grateful to all who have facilitated my release in my legal team."

Last month, the Indian officials from Indian Mission in London got consular access to crew members and a 3-member team went to meet them. The Indian crew spent 43 days in detention on board the ship. Citizens from Russia, the Philippines were also onboard the seized Iranian tanker.

Focus now remain on the 18 Indians onboard the UK oil tanker Stena Impero detained by Iran. Stena Impero was detained for "failing to respect international maritime rules", according to Iranian authorities.

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Meanwhile, Stena Bulk which operates the tanker Stena Impero has made an appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his intervention in the matter. 

President and CEO, Erik Hanell has appealed to PM Modi, "seeking help and assistance" for the release of Indian seafarers detained by the Iranian authorities. 

Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale has met Iranian Ambassador in Delhi and Indian Ambassador in Tehran has had meetings with senior officials of Iranian foreign ministry regarding the issue.

Stena Bulk has also made similar appeals to the leaders and Foreign Ministers of Russia, Latvia and the Philippines whose citizens are on board the tanker with the aim to resolve this situation.