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Cypriot sailor took hostage by Iran in good health

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A Cypriot on one of two Greek tankers seized by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in the Gulf is in good health, the Foreign Ministry said as efforts to end the hostage-taking continue.

Greece accused Iran of “piracy” after Tehran’s Revolutionary Guards said they seized two Greek-flagged oil tankers in the Gulf.

“These actions are tantamount to acts of piracy,” the foreign ministry said in a statement, warning Greek citizens to avoid travelling to Iran.

Athens said Iranian navy helicopters had landed gunmen on the two tankers on Friday.

One of them, the Delta Poseidon, was sailing in international waters at the time.

A spokeswoman at the Athens-based company Polembros identified the second tanker as the Prudent Warrior.

The Greek foreign ministry said the second tanker was near the Iranian coast when seized.

The ministry said nine Greeks were among the crews of both vessels but did not give a number of other sailors on board. One of them is a Cypriot national.

The Cypriot citizen among the crew of one of the two Greek-flagged tankers is in good health; the Cyprus Foreign Ministry told CNA.

It said efforts to end the hostage-taking continue.

Demetris Demetriou, Spokesman for the ministry, said representations had been made by the Cyprus ambassador in Iran and the government.

He said the Cypriot seafarer is in good health, and his family is in continuous communication with him.

Athens has informed the European Union and the International Maritime Organisation of the incident.

The incidents occurred at the end of a week that saw the US seize a cargo of Iranian crude oil from a Russian tanker held in Greece.

Tehran decried the move as “international robbery.”

According to state news agency Irna, Iran’s foreign ministry summoned the chargé d’affaires of the Greek embassy in Tehran to protest the move, calling it “a clear act of piracy”.

Iran has also protested to the envoy of Switzerland in Tehran, which represents US interests there, over the seizure in Greece of the cargo from the Aframax Lana, formerly named Pegas.

One industry source told Lloyd’s List: “We have to wait and see what the Iranians want, but everyone, including security forces in the region, think this is a case of tit-for-tat.”