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Kerala woman cadet onboard ship seized by Iran returns home

Last updated on: April 19, 2024 01:32 IST

The sole woman crew member of an Israel-linked container vessel seized by Iran's military, Ann Tessa Joseph, who was released by Iranian authorities and arrived in Kochi, on Thursday expressed gratitude to all, including the Indian authorities who facilitated her release.

IMAGE: Ann Tessa Joseph (left), the woman cadet who was among the 17 Indians onboard container vessel MSC Aries seized by Iran, being welcomed at the airport in Kochi, Kerala, April 18, 2024. Photograph: Courtesy MEA India on X

Joseph said while she was scared when the ship was seized, none of the 25 crew members were mistreated by the Iranian authorities who also made arrangements for the sailors to communicate with their respective families.

"We cannot say that we were imprisoned. We were with them. We were not treated cruelly and food was not an issue," she said while speaking to reporters after reaching her home in this southern Kerala district.


Joseph said the 16 remaining Indians, including three from Kerala, would also be released soon according to what she was told by the Indian consulate.

"I was released early probably as I was the only woman onboard the ship," she said.

She said that everyone onboard the ship was aware of the tensions between Israel and Iran, but never expected that such a thing would happen to them.

"It was totally unexpected. They (Iranian authorities) gave several reasons for seizing the ship," she said.

Joseph further said her quick release was thanks to the direct intervention by the external affairs ministry.

"Not just them, there are many whom I did not see or know, but who worked for my release. I would like to thank them all," she said.

Joseph, who had joined the ship as a crew member only nine months ago, said she was not deterred by this unfortunate experience.

"I took up this job because I desired to work in this field. Worked a lot to achieve it. This was my first ship. Therefore, I will not be giving it up because of this experience." she told reporters.

Earlier, after receiving Joseph at Cochin International Airport, her father Biju Abraham said that his daughter's prayer is for the release of others, including those from Kerala who remain on the ship, to be made possible.

"She said that she was able to return home so soon because of the hard work of the Government of India and other agencies. Thanks to everyone. The role played by the media in this matter is also highly appreciated," Abraham told PTI while travelling to their residence in Kodungoor, Kottayam district, with his daughter.

The family, based in Thrissur, had relocated to Kodungoor last week and Joseph was on her way to visit their new home when the Iranian army seized the ship.

Earlier in the day, the ministry of external affairs said that Joseph was released on Thursday following "concerted efforts" by the Indian mission in Tehran and the Iranian government.

"With the concerted efforts of the Indian mission in Tehran and the Iranian government, Indian deck cadet Ann Tessa Joseph from Thrissur, Kerala, who was among the Indian crew members of container vessel MSC Aries, has landed safely at Cochin international airport today afternoon," the MEA said in a statement.

As many as 17 Indians, including Keralite Joseph, were part of the 25-member crew of the ship.

The MEA said the Indian side is in touch with Iranian authorities to ensure the release of the remaining 16 Indian crew members of the vessel 'MSC Aries'

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