It is almost a month since the British tanker Stena Impero has been seized by Iran and the family of Dijo Pappachan, one of the sailors on board, continue to wait for their son’s return. Though Dijo’s family in Kochi has been able to communicate with him over the phone, the situation does not seem to have improved since the ship was seized. In fact, the condition is not looking good, Pappachan tells TNM.
Dijo, in his last conversation, told his father that the Iran officials’ attitude towards the sailors has turned hostile, so much so that they have even seized the drinking water which was stored in the ship.
According to Pappachan, the water that was stored in the ship – for domestic and drinking purposes – for the sailors on board was of high quality compared to the water made available to them in Iran. “Now, the sailors on board are getting water supplied by Iran; but it is of poor quality. Dijo also informed us that the Iranian officials have tightened their monitoring on the ship,” Pappachan says.
“We were partially relieved when we got a call from Dijo about one week after the ship was seized on July 19. But now, once again, we have lost our peace of mind with this news,” says Pappachan.
Stena Impero, the British chemical tanker with 23 sailors on board, was seized by Iran on July 19, for allegedly violating international maritime rules. Eighteen among the crew members are from India.
Meanwhile, Stena Bulk, the company that owns the chemical tanker, in its last official release (dated August 6), termed the continued detainment of sailors by Iran authorities ‘unacceptable and unjustifiable’.
“We are maintaining limited communication with the crew on board and although they remain in good health considering the circumstances, we continue to be concerned about their welfare, given the amount of time they have been in confinement,” read the statement.
Stena Bulk has told the families that their talks with Iran officials have been put on hold as the latter are unavailable due to Eid holidays.
Apart from Indians, there are sailors from Russia, Latvia and the Philippines onboard Stena Impero.
Dijo’s family is in fear and hope their son and other crew members on board are not facing a situation direr than what is being told to the families.