Two days after North Korean cargo vessel Hyang Ro was detained by the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard for entering Indian territorial waters off the Kerala coast at Vadakara without mandatory statutory clearances, a joint security team that probed the ship gave it the go-ahead to leave Indian waters on Sunday evening. Hyang Ro unauthorisedly entered Indian waters on Friday while sailing from Colombo to Port Bin Qasim, near Karachi, in Pakistan. It has a displacement of about 9,000 tonnes.

"The authorities that inspected the ship have established that the claims of the crew of the ship [that it dropped anchor because of an internal leak] were genuine. The investigating team did not find any incriminating cargo or evidence on board. Accordingly, procedures for the vessel to leave Indian waters are being initiated," said Defence Spokesperson Commander Roy Francis.

Hyang Ro, owned by Sinhung Shipping of North Korea, anchored seven nautical miles off Vadakara on Friday afternoon. As soon as it was reported by the local police and the fishing community there, the Coast Guard mobilised its extra fast patrol ship CGS Kasturba Gandhi, which detained Hyang Ro at 9 30 pm the same day.

"On Saturday, Coast Guard personnel interrogated Choe Sung Ho, captain of the Korean vessel who cited a leak in the ship’s cargo hold no.4 as the reason for anchorage. Indian Naval Ship (INS) Sarvekshak also joined the operation. Today morning, a Coast Guard interceptor boat, C-144, took a team comprising Navy, Coast Guard, police, port and intelligence personnel to the detained ship. After detailed investigations on board the ship, the team gave it the clearance to leave," a top security source told The Hindu over the phone.

In a similar incident in August this year, Indian security agencies had let off, after a few days’ detention, North Korean merchant vessel Mu San, which illegally entered Indian waters off Andaman Islands.

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