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S. Korean firm says it received report on handover of oil tanker's crew after incident

All News 16:26 June 15, 2019

SEOUL, June 15 (Yonhap) -- South Korean shipping firm Hyundai Merchant Marine Co. said Saturday it did not know that a cargo ship it chartered rescued crew members of a Norwegian tanker that was on fire in the Gulf of Oman earlier this week until after the incident.

The cargo ship, Hyundai Dubai, rescued 23 sailors from the Norwegian tanker Front Altair on Thursday after receiving a distress call and handed them over to Iranian authorities.

CBS News said the captain of the Hyundai Dubai "contacted his company's management, which told him to refuse the Iranian request (to turn over the mariners)," but handed them over as "he felt like he had no choice but to comply with Iranian demands," citing declassified U.S. intelligence reports on Friday.

A Hyundai Merchant Marine official said the company that the captain was said to have contacted could have been the ship owner headquartered in Germany, not the South Korean firm.

"Hyundai Dubai reported that it was heading to rescue the crew in compliance with international regulations and that it turned over 23 crew members to the Iranian navy all after the incident," the official said.

"The company that the Hyundai Dubai captain was said to have contacted was not Hyundai Merchant Marine as far as I know," the official said.

The Front Altair is one of two oil tankers that were hit by suspected attacks in the Gulf of Oman on the day. It was on fire after three rounds of explosions were heard, Hyundai Merchant Marine said.

The sailors, mostly from Russia and the Philippines, were taken to Iran and remained in their custody, according to Reuters on Friday.

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