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Stena Impero: Crew seen in first pictures from inside UK-flagged oil tanker seized by Iran | World News

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The crew of a British-flagged oil tanker seized by Iran in the Gulf have been pictured inside the vessel for the first time since armed soldiers took control.

Some of the 23 personnel stationed aboard the Stena Impero are seen working in the kitchen and assembled around a table, while others are visible near the windows on one of the decks, looking up towards an official stood in-front of them alongside a large pile of shoes.

Tehran had already released video footage of the moment on Friday that members of the Iran Revolutionary Guard rappelled on to the vessel, which is now being held at the Bandar Abbas port.

Iran has said the crew are in 'good health'
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Iran has said the crew are in ‘good health’
There are 23 people in the crew
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There are 23 people in the crew

Those on-board the Swedish-owned, European-operated tanker are from India, Latvia, Russia and the Philippines – and all are said to be in “good health”.

Among the crew is Dijo Pappachan, from Kochi, India, whose parents have said they are “shocked” by the situation.

His father, TV Pappachan, told the Khaleej Times newspaper: “He called and spoke with his mother on Thursday morning saying he is on his way to Saudi Arabia from Dubai. To our utter shock, we got a call from his company the next day saying the ship is under Iran’s custody.

“I am not speaking only for my son. All the 23 crew members set sail to foreign countries for work. They are on-board to make a living. We are all praying for the entire crew’s safe return.”

Stena Impero
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Some of the crew of the Stena Impero can be seen in this picture from inside the vessel
The crew of can be seen working in the kitchen
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The crew can be seen working in the kitchen

The crew had been expecting to arrive in the Saudi Arabian industrial city of Jubail on Sunday, having departed Fujairah on the east coast of the United Arab Emirates on Thursday.

As it passed westward through the Strait of Hormuz on Friday, it was approached by unidentified small crafts and a helicopter, from which troops from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard rappelled on to the vessel to seize control.

The vessel’s course shifted north towards the Iranian coast.

Dijo Pappachan
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Dijo Pappachan is among the crew aboard the vessel
Deena and TV Pappachan, whose son is among the crew
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Deena and TV Pappachan, whose son is among the crew

Some 40 minutes later, there was a similar course shift by the UK-operated, Liberian-flagged Mesdar.

That crew was allowed to continue their voyage a few hours later after the ship was boarded by armed guards.









Moment Iranian troops board tanker

The seizure of the Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz has sparked widespread condemnation in the UK, with a Cobra emergency committee meeting chaired by Prime Minister Theresa May.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said it looked like Iran was choosing a “dangerous path of illegal and destabilising behaviour”, but wants a “diplomatic solution” to the dispute.

He is due to update the House of Commons on the situation, with sanctions against Iran for its “illegal interference” said to be on the cards.

Ministers are reportedly considering freezing Iranian regime assets, which will exacerbate tensions that have been on a rapid rise since US sanctions came into effect at the start of May.

Iranian Revolutionary Guards patrolling around the British-flagged tanker Stena Impero off the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas
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Iranian Revolutionary Guards patrolling around the British-flagged tanker Stena Impero

It began when two US oil tankers in the region were attacked on 13 June, with Iran denying it was to blame after the regime was accused by Donald Trump.

Britain has since become embroiled in a tit-for-tat of its own, starting with the involvement of Royal Marines in the seizure of an Iranian supertanker near Gibraltar due to suspicions it was carrying oil to the Syrian regime.

Bob Seely MP, from the foreign affairs committee, has said the situation constitutes a “massive crisis” that will only grow unless there is “an Iranian nuclear deal that gets the US back in it”.

President Trump has said he "was not happy" about what the crowd had to say.
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Iran has blamed Donald Trump for the heightened tensions in the Gulf

Mr Trump took the US out of the international agreement earlier this year, and its remaining Western backers fear it will soon collapse.

The deal – considered one of the most significant foreign policy achievements of the Obama administration – was designed to see Iran eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium, cut its stockpile of low-enriched uranium and reduce the number of its gas centrifuges for 13 years.



Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt MP has been in a Cobra meeting discussing what 'further measures' will be taken







Hunt to Iran: ‘We need that ship released’

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has blamed the US for the current situation in the Gulf, saying Washington wants to drag the UK “into a quagmire”.

Meanwhile, Iran claims it has broken up a CIA spying ring and sentenced some of the 17 suspects to death.

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Coronavirus: Mainland China cases now exceed SARS as death toll hits 132 | World News

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The coronavirus death toll in China has risen to 132 and the total number of confirmed cases has reached just shy of 6,000, making it more widespread on the mainland than the notable SARS outbreak of 2002 and 2003.

Twenty-six people have died in the last 24 hours, health authorities said on Wednesday – and there has been been an increase in confirmed cases of 1,459, taking that total to 5,974.

The latest figures emphasise just how quickly the virus has spread in mainland China, where severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) infected 5,327 people and killed 349 between November 2002 and July 2003.

Passengers take measures to protect themselves in Tokyo
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Passengers take measures to protect themselves in Tokyo
Face masks are becoming a more common sight at Heathrow airport
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Face masks are becoming a more common sight at Heathrow airport

All but one of the newly recorded deaths came in Hubei province, which is where the city of Wuhan is located.

Wuhan is the epicentre of the virus and was placed under lockdown by the Chinese government, prompting other countries including Britain and the US to start evacuating their nationals from the city.

Governments around the world are advising people not to travel to China as uncertainty remains over how dangerous the mystery virus is and how easily it spreads between humans.

It is from the same family as the common cold as well as more serious illnesses like SARS.

There have been confirmed cases in countries across Asia, North America and Europe, although there have been no fatalities outside China.

Despite spreading, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has not classified the virus as a global emergency.

There are confirmed cases of the virus in Macau
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There are confirmed cases of the virus in Macau
There have not been any fatalities outside China so far
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There have not been any fatalities outside China so far

On Tuesday, UK health officials said 97 had been tested for the virus but all were negative, but England’s director for health protection later warned it may still be present in the country.

People who have recently returned from Wuhan recently have been urged to “self-isolate”.

Some nations are taking more drastic action than others in their bid to avoid any major outbreaks among their citizens, with the Philippines having issued a temporary blanket ban on tourist visas for Chinese nationals.

Hong Kong will cut all rail links to mainland China and halve the number of flights, South Korea will send a plane for its citizens and many other governments have also planned evacuations.

Australia is among them, but Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said those who are flown out of Hubei province will be quarantined on Christmas Island.

British officials believe up to 200 citizens currently in Wuhan will want to return to the UK, and the Foreign Office is advising people in other parts of China to “make decisions based on their own personal circumstances”.

The first new hospital will provide around 1,000 bed when it opens
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The first new hospital will provide around 1,000 bed when it opens
New hospitals are being built in Wuhan
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New hospitals are being built in Wuhan

Wuhan is one of 17 cities in Hubei province that China has cut off access to, trapping more than 50 million people in the most far-reaching disease control measures ever imposed.

Wuhan is building two hospitals in a matter of days to add 2,500 beds for treatment of patients with the virus, with authorities having warned that the virus is getting stronger and that they are unclear on its potential to mutate.

China responded similarly to the SARS outbreak, which eventually killed nearly 800 people around the world.

Australia has been welcoming people back from Wuhan
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Australia has been welcoming people back from Wuhan
Governments are working to evacuate their nationals from Wuhan
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Governments are working to evacuate their nationals from Wuhan

While anxiety continues to grow in tandem with the number of confirmed cases, there is already hope among some scientists that there could be a vaccine in the offing.

Researchers from The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity in Melbourne have said they have grown a version of the virus that could be used to develop a vaccine.

It was grown from a patient sample received last week and will be used to generate an antibody test, which allows detection of the virus in patients who have not yet displayed any symptoms.

Dr Julian Druce said: “The virus will be used as positive control material for the Australian network of public health laboratories, and also shipped to expert laboratories working closely with the WHO in Europe.”

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Airbus takes €3.6bn hit to settle bribery and corruption claims | Business News

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Airbus has agreed to settle bribery and corruption allegations by UK, US and French authorities in a deal that will cost it €3.6bn (£3bn).

The European aeroplane maker, based in Toulouse, disclosed the scale of the financial hit hours after confirming that it had reached an “agreement in principle” with authorities in each country.

Court hearings will take place in each of the three jurisdictions on Friday to give final approval to the deal.

Airbus said it would book a €3.6bn provision for the penalties in its annual accounts for 2019.

It did not give a breakdown in its statement of how much would go to each country or what part of the total was accounted for by other costs.

Still, the scale of the provision makes it likely that the settlement surpasses the £671m penalties handed to Rolls-Royce for similar allegations two years ago.

Airbus said its case related to “allegations of bribery and corruption and to inaccuracies in filings made with the US authorities pursuant to the US international traffic in arms regulations”.

In Britain, the Serious Fraud Office confirmed in a separate statement that it had reached a deferred prosecution agreement in principle with the company, subject to court approval.

It said no further information could be provided until after the hearing.

The SFO and the French financial prosecutor’s office had begun investigating Airbus in 2016 with the US Department of Justice joining in 2018.

The allegations related to irregularities concerning third party consultants.

Airbus employs more than 130,000 people worldwide including 13,500 in the UK at sites in Bristol, north Wales, Newport, Portsmouth and Stevenage.

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Trump’s plan means an end to the ‘two-state’ solution | World News

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There’s no question that Mr Trump’s peace plan was in no small part about distraction. 

The American President has his impeachment to deflect from. Israeli PM Netenyahu has a corruption and bribery trial ahead of him.

It’s also about domestic politics. Both leaders face elections – Netanyahu’s is in just a few weeks.

The plan they jointly unveiled, and without the Palestinians, appeals to their domestic bases – Israeli right wingers and American Jewish voters.

In truth, it’s not a viable plan for peace. It’s an aspiration.

It’s one that the Palestinians won’t accept. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas made that clear “1000 times over” moments after it was revealed.

Even if the Palestinians are being offered economic sweeteners and Israeli desert land near Egypt as compensation, this won’t fly.

The idea alone that they would sign up to a plan where the whole of Jerusalem – west and east – is formally declared as the capital of the Jewish State of Israel is a fantasy now and for many years to come.

The Trump plan is a radical new approach, weighted hugely towards the Israelis, at a time when sympathy for the Palestinian cause globally, even among Arab states is dwindling.

The awfulness of Syria, Yemen and Iraq has moved the focus away from the decades-old Palestinian struggle.

And Israel has successfully cast itself as the regional policeman vis-a-vis Iran. Gulf Arab states now quietly talk to Israel as they all work out how to counter Iran.

Again, this makes it harder for the Palestinian voice to be heard – if the Arabs in the Gulf don’t have their back, then what?

That’s why America and Israel think that now is the moment to reframe the debate; to reset the Israel/Palestinian argument and to do so in their own interests.

A final thought: Is there a chance that at some point in the future, a majority of Palestinians will decide that their own rights outweigh their quest for sovereignty and statehood?

Polls suggest the young in Palestine already care more about their rights than they do about having their own country.

They believe in a one state solution, a nation that incorporates everyone. Call it Israel, call it something else – long as they have rights entirely equal to Israeli Jews.

That could be where we are heading. One thing is clear though – the two state solution as we have known it for 30 years is dead with Donald Trump’s Deal of the Century.

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