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Stranded in Chinese waters, 16 more Indian sailors to return home

Sixteen Indian sailors stranded in Chinese waters for more than four months are set to return home after authorities in Beijing agreed to India’s request to permit a crew change, the external affairs ministry said on Thursday.

A total of 39 Indian seafarers were stranded on two merchant vessels off Chinese ports for months because of the trade row between China and Australia. Both ships were carrying Australian coal, which they weren’t allowed to unload by Chinese authorities.

Twenty-three sailors stranded on MV Jag Anand, which was at anchorage near Jingtang port since June 13 last year, returned home this month after a crew change was arranged at a Japanese port. Now, the 16 sailors stranded on MV Anastasia near Caofeidian port since September 20 will return as Chinese authorities have permitted a crew change.

“After sustained follow-up by our embassy in Beijing, the Chinese central authorities have conveyed their clearance to the local foreign office in Tangshan and port authorities for the transfer of the crew of MV Anastasia,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.

“This information has also been shared with the shipping company [which owns the vessel]. The shipping company’s agent, we understand, has submitted a request to the local port authorities and is coordinating with them on the modalities for crew change at Caofeidian port,” he said.

“We hope the crew change can now be effected at the earliest,” Srivastava added.

India has repeatedly taken up the issue of the stranded sailors with China over the past few months. Chinese authorities had outlined detailed steps for a crew change in view of the country’s strict pandemic control and prevention measures, and insisted these would have to be complied with by the shipping companies.
Source: Hindustan Times

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