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New Delhi pursuing with Beijing case of 39 stranded sailors

The Indian Ambassador in Beijing has personally taken up this issue with the Chinese vice foreign minister.

Statesman News Service | New Delhi |

India today said it was “pursuing vigorously” with the Chinese authorities the plight of 39 Indians sailors stuck in China on board two cargo vessels for the past several months and hoped the matter would be resolved.

“Our Embassy in Beijing continues to remain in close and continuous touch with the Chinese authorities in Beijing, Hebei and Tianjin. The (External Affairs) Ministry is also following up through the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi for an early resolution,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.

The Indian bulk cargo vessel MV Jag Anand of Great Eastern Shipping company has been on anchorage near Jingtang port in Hebei province of China since 13 June with 23 Indian nationals as crew on board.

Another vessel, MV Anastasia, which has 16 Indian nationals as its crew, has been on anchorage near Caofeidian port in China since 20 September. Both these vessels have been waiting for discharge of their cargo.

There is a growing stress on the crew members on account of the long delay. Noting that there were several other ships from other countries also awaiting their turn for unloading their cargo, the spokesperson said India has repeatedly taken up the matter both with the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and also the local provincial authorities, requesting that the ships be allowed to dock and/or the crew be allowed to be changed.

The Indian Ambassador in Beijing has personally taken up this issue with the Chinese vice foreign minister. The Chinese authorities have conveyed to India that on account of various Covid19 related restrictions imposed by the local authorities, crew change was not being permitted from these ports.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry conveyed in late November 2020 that while crew change from Jingtang port would not be feasible, the shipping company/agent might apply for crew rotation from Tianjin port in China, and that the local authorities would examine after receiving requests for the same.

The concerned shipping companies have been asked to make crew change applications expeditiously. “While the shipping companies are examining the logistics of sailing the ships away from their current points of anchorage, our embassy is liaising with relevant authorities in Tianjin for berthing approvals to facilitate the crew change,” the spokesperson added.