Iran detained Hong Kong-flagged ship before letting it sail

The vessel was approached 48nm (nautical miles) off the coast of Fujairah, UAE. (Marine Traffic)
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Updated 15 April 2020

Iran detained Hong Kong-flagged ship before letting it sail

  • The vessel was approached 48nm (nautical miles) off the coast of the UAE
  • Sources said the SC Taipei chemical tanker had been sailing in international waters

LONDON: A Hong Kong-flagged tanker was briefly detained in Iran before being freed after armed Iranian guards in speedboats directed the vessel into its waters while it was sailing through the Gulf of Oman, maritime security sources said on Wednesday.
The sources said the SC Taipei chemical tanker had been sailing in international waters on Tuesday when it was stopped by Iranian authorities.

“The vessel was approached 48nm (nautical miles) offshore Fujairah and hailed by four skiffs carrying armed Iranian coast guard personnel,” British maritime security company Ambrey Intelligence said.
“The vessel’s crew were ordered to lower the ladder and were then boarded. The vessel was later directed to Kooh Mobarak, Iran, but quickly released with crew and vessel now confirmed safe.”
Two other maritime security sources also said the vessel had been briefly detained in Iran before being allowed to sail.
Iranian and Hong Kong officials could not be immediately reached for comment . The vessel’s Singapore-based manager SC Shipping was also not immediately available.
The SC Taipei’s last position on Wednesday was at anchor near to the United Arab Emirates with the UAE port of Fujairah listed as its destination, Refinitiv ship tracking data showed.
The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) said on Tuesday that armed men had boarded an unnamed vessel at anchor in the Gulf of Oman but the ship was later released.
The UKMTO said on Wednesday that Tuesday’s episode was “assessed to be an isolated incident of state-based intervention, with no wider threat to maritime shipping in the region.”
Last year Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) detained a Swedish-owned tanker which was held for weeks in Iran after Britain had earlier detained an Iranian tanker off the territory of Gibraltar.
Ambrey Intelligence said the IRGC had stepped up activity in recent weeks throughout the Strait of Hormuz, hailing ships via VHF radio systems and conducting brief interdictions. It added that such activity should be viewed in the context of “domestic pressures related to sanctions.”
The United States re-imposed tough sanctions on Iran in 2018 after Washington pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran, raising tensions and hitting the Middle Eastern oil producer’s economy.


Debate rages over Turkey’s surging pandemic numbers

Pedestrians, wearing face masks, walk in a street of Ankara on November 20, 2020. (AFP)
Updated 24 November 2020

Debate rages over Turkey’s surging pandemic numbers

  • 20% of Israeli travelers to Turkey in October tested positive for coronavirus on their return
  • No PCR test is required now in Turkish airports for the passengers entering the country. It is a very big mistake

ANKARA: Unofficial sources have warned that numbers of COVID-19 cases in Turkey are skyrocketing.

The Turkish Medical Association (TTB) estimated that daily COVID-19 cases have risen to more than 47,500, of which about 12,500 are in Istanbul. This would represent a 300 percent increase in November compared to the month before.

According to official data, however, Turkey recorded 5,103 new COVID-19 patients on Nov. 20 — the second highest new daily figure since March — and its highest daily death toll with 141 fatalities.

Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu announced that 186 people died from “infectious diseases” in the city on Nov. 22 — more than the official countrywide death toll. (The Turkish health ministry is accused of classifying some COVID-related deaths as "infection-related deaths")

The TTB, whose data drew on figures from 1,270 medics in 76 provinces, claimed that someone in Turkey dies from COVID-19 every 10 minutes. It declared that “they have lost control of the pandemic.”

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca previously admitted that they do not include everyone who tested positive for COVID-19 in the number of daily cases — they only count those who show symptoms. Following this admission Turkey was put on the UK’s quarantine-on-arrival list in early October.

BACKGROUND

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca previously admitted that they do not include everyone who tested positive for COVID-19 in the number of daily cases — they only count those who show symptoms.

Reports drawing on Israeli health ministry data say that 20 percent of Israeli travelers to Turkey in October tested positive for coronavirus on their return home, which experts consider a worryingly high figure.

Everyone arriving in Israel is obliged to self-isolate for 14 days. There is no such an obligation in Turkey.

“The countries which prove successful in managing the pandemic are those that apply strict quarantine rules and rigorously regulate arrivals in the country. But this is not the case in Turkey nowadays,” said Guner Sonmez, a radiologist from Uskudar University in Istanbul.

“Only one case can again trigger a whole chain of contagion and begin a new wave of pandemic. However, no PCR test is required now in Turkish airports for the passengers who enter the country. It is a very big mistake for managing the dynamics of the pandemic.”

Turkey recently re-introduced a partial evening curfew and restrictions on the weekends, although scientists have been urging a full 14-day lockdown.