After about one whole week of anxiety and tension, the family of Dijo Pappachan, one of the 18 Indian sailors on board British chemical tanker Stena Impero that was seized by Iran, is finally relieved as they received a call from their son for a second time on Friday morning. This comes after the Indian Embassy in Tehran was granted consular access to meet all 18 Indian crew on board. Similar access to the remaining five crew members from other nationalities is underway.
Dijo called his family for the first time on Thursday morning after the ship he works on was seized by Iran on July 19. His family in Kochi is finally at ease after talking with him directly over the phone for the second consecutive day.
“His call came for the first time seven days after the ship was seized. There are no words to describe our relief when we heard his voice. We spoke for about six minutes and he informed that all crew members are safe and that there are no problems. He called again this morning (Friday), though we could talk only for a few minutes. He sounded much better and happy than the previous day,” Dijo’s father, TV Pappachan, told TNM.
Apart from Dijo, two of the other crew members, including the Captain of the ship, hail from Kochi.
According to Pappachan, Dijo was informed that officials of the Indian government had begun talks with Iranian officials for their release. “Dijo said that by the way things are going, they will be released at the earliest and he was happy about that,” added Pappachan.
Meanwhile, V Muraleedharan, Minister of State for External Affairs, tweeted on Thursday night that the Indian embassy availed consular access on Thursday evening and that all 18 Indian crew members on board are safe and doing fine.
Received an update on ‘Stena Impero’. Our Embassy availed consular access today evening. All 18 Indian crew members on board are safe and doing fine. Will continue to push for their early release. @narendramodi @PMOIndia @AmitShah @DrSJaishankar @MEAIndia @VMBJP pic.twitter.com/YqtFupLuZA— V. Muraleedharan (@MOS_MEA) July 25, 2019
Stena Bulk, the British company, in an official statement on Thursday evening, said that all the 23 crew members on board, including people from other countries, are safe and the company continues to be in contact with the ship.
They also said that actions are being taken to facilitate the release of the crew members at the earliest. “Stena Bulk and Northern Marine Management continue to hold dialogue with all the governments and authorities directly involved in order to secure the release of crew and vessel. We await a decision from the local authorities on our request to attend the vessel,” it states.
They also confirmed that there is no evidence of a collision involving the vessel and that at the time of the seizure, “the vessel was within the inbound traffic separation scheme and out-with Iranian territorial waters”.