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|Hankuk Chemi, used to carry oil products and chemicals, was said to be seized in the Persian Gulf on its way to the United Arab Emirates port of Fujairah after loading at Jubail, Saudi Arabia, on Jan. 2. Iran claimed responsibility for the seizure.|
The crew of the Hankuk Chemi tanker received a 10 to 20 minute warning from Iranian authorities before the ship was boarded by troops, its owner, DM Shipping Co Ltd., told CNN in a statement on January 5.
The company said its communication with the tanker was cut off as soon as the ship was seized.
Two Vietnamese citizens are among the 20 civilian mariners aboard the tanker, the country's foreign ministry said.
The spokesperson for the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has requested concerned parties to ensure the safety and interests of Vietnamese crew members aboard a the seized tanker.
Spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang made the request in response to reporters’ question on January 5 relating to the seizure of vessel Hankuk Chemi, VOV reported.
The vessel was carrying 7,200 tonnes of ethanol and 20 crew members, including two Vietnamese citizens.
On hearing about the news, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs came into contact with the embassies of the Republic of Korea and Iran in Hanoi to inquire into the incident, Hang said.
|Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang.|
The ministry immediately directed Vietnamese representative missions in the RoK and Iran to work closely with relevant agencies of the host countries and the vessel owner to clarify the case and demand safety for the Vietnamese crew members, as well as to quickly deal with the case.
The ministry also contacted the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs and the Ministry of Transport to verify the identity of the crew members and ask the guestworker sending company to ensure the interests of the Vietnamese workers abroad.
According to the spokesperson, Vietnamese representative missions in the RoK and Iran are keeping a close watch on the case and are ready to take necessary citizen protection measures to protect the Vietnamese crew members’ rights and interests.
Seoul dispatched an acclaimed anti-piracy unit to the Strait of Hormuz following the tanker's seizure.
The Cheonghae Unit, which includes the RoK's special forces, arrived in the strait on January 5 aboard the 5,000-ton destroyer Choi Yong, according to the South Korean defense ministry.
Tensions in the Persian Gulf have increased in the past week, near the one-year anniversary of the deadly US strike on Qasem Soleimani, a top Iranian general.
In its statement on January 5, the Hankuk Chemi's owner said it was in contact with the South Korean consulate in Tehran and expected more information later in the day.
The company added that it has asked its protection and indemnity insurance (P&I) club to investigate the seizure. The insurance club is expected to dispatch an investigator to Iran to check on the safety of the crew and to examine Iran's claim that the tanker was seized due to environmental contamination./.
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