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Crew of seized British oil tanker 'safe', Iran says

The British tanker Stena Impero was seized by Iran on Friday [Getty]

Date of publication: 21 July, 2019

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Iran says that the crew of a British tanker it seized on Friday are safe but that the speed of its investigation into the tanker depends on the crew’s cooperation.

Iran said on Sunday that the speed of its investigation into a British-flagged tanker depends on the cooperation of its crew, after refusing calls to hand back the vessel.

The Stena Impero tanker was impounded with its 23 crew members on board at the port of Bandar Abbas after the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seized it on Friday.

The Guards on Saturday released video footage showing a ship with the Stena Impero's markings being surrounded by speedboats before troops in balaclavas descend down a rope from a helicopter onto the vessel.

Iran has detained the oil tanker on allegations of failing to respond to distress calls and turning off its transponder after hitting a fishing boat.

Its crew is made up of 18 Indians, including the captain, three Russians, a Latvian and a Filipino.

"All of them are in full health, they are on the vessel and the vessel is... anchored in a safe place," said Allah-Morad Afifipoor, director-general of the Hormozgan province port and maritime authority.

"We are ready to meet their needs. But we have to carry out investigations with regards the vessel," he told Press TV.

"The investigation depends on the cooperation by the crew members on the vessel, and also our access to the evidence required for us to look into the matter.

"God willing, we will make every effort to gather all the information as soon as possible," he added.

Previously, Iranian officials said that the seizure of the British tanker was a “reciprocal move” following the seizure by Britain of an Iranian oil tanker near Gibraltar.

British foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt has said that Britain’s response to Iran’s seizure of the tanker would be “considered but robust”.

British ministers are now reportedly considering freezing Iranian assets in the UK in response to the incident.

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