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.

LIVE: Middle East returns to normal life amid strict COVID-19 measures 

Updated 4 min 28 sec ago

LIVE: Middle East returns to normal life amid strict COVID-19 measures 

DUBAI: Efforts to return life gradually back to some kind of normality in parts of the Middle East continue, as governments get ready to reopen borders and airlines take bookings for flights. 
Tunisia said it will open its sea, land and air borders on June 27 in the hope of rescuing its tourism industry as the coronavirus pandemic comes under control.
Emirates airline also announced that it was taking bookings for flights from Dubai to 12 Arab countries from the start of July. Emirates began operating scheduled flight services to nine destinations around the world from May 21, including London Heathrow, Frankfurt, Paris, Milan, Madrid, Chicago, Toronto, Sydney and Melbourne.
Meanwhile, Lebanon’s commercial complexes, hotels, cafes and museums reopened their doors to customers on Monday after closing for two-and-a-half months. 

June 2, Tuesday (GMT Times)

11:44 - Qatar has reported 1,826 coronavirus cases, raising total to 60,259.

11:28 -  Scientists have found 27 key proteins in the blood of people infected with COVID-19 which they say could act as predictive biomarkers for how ill a patient could become with the disease.

10:24 - Kuwait has confirmed 887 coronavirus cases and the recovery of 50 percent of total infected people.

10:22 - UAE has recorded 596 coronavirus cases and 388 recoveries.

09:43 - New reported cases of coronavirus are steadily declining in Western Europe, but not in Russia and Eastern Europe: World Health Organization spokeswoman said.

09:34 - Formula One has unveiled an eight-race schedule in Europe from July 5 amid the coronavirus pandemic.

09:32 - Iran has reported 64 coronavirus deaths, 3,117 cases, raising total infected people to 157,562 with 7,942 fatalities.

09:20 - The number of coronavirus deaths in Britain is close to 50,000, Reuters reported.

09:07 – Hong Kong will extend restrictions on foreign visitors by another three months and an eight-person limit on group gatherings by two weeks, Health Secretary Sophia Chan said on Tuesday.
Both measures were due to expire later in June.
Travellers to Hong Kong need to undergo a mandatory 14 day quarantine period.

08:45 – 12,739 people died from coronavirus in England and Wales as of May 22, the Office for National Statistics said.

08:16 – Senegal has postponed the restart of schools until further notice after several teachers tested positive for the new coronavirus, the education ministry said late on Monday.

07:51 – Russia has confirmed 8,863 coronavirus cases and 182 deaths in the past 24 hours.

07:02 – A Wuhan doctor who worked with coronavirus whistleblower Li Wenliang died of the virus last week, state media reported Tuesday, becoming China's first COVID-19 fatality in weeks.
07:00 Paris gets some of its pre-lockdown life back as cafes and restaurants partially reopen Tuesday.
06:51 – The global coronavirus death toll has topped 375,000, according to AFP tally.

06:45 – The first Rohingya refugee died from coronavirus in Bangladesh, an official said.

05:59Egypt has sanitized prisons and carried out tests on prisoners across the country after banning visits to help curb the spread of coronavirus, local daily Egypt Today reported.

05:50 – A cluster of nine coronavirus cases raised concerns in Hong Kong over renewed local transmission in a city that has been one of the most successful in keeping the pandemic under control. 

05:18 – The United States on Monday recorded 743 new coronavirus deaths in 24 hours, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, bringing its total to 105,099 since the global pandemic began.