In a major development, Beijing has said that Indian seafarers stuck in China are getting enough help to sustain life. The seafarers in question are stuck on a bulk carrier named MV Jag Anand anchored at Jingtang port in Henri province of China.
No Indication of Release
The troubled ship has been stuck in Jingtang port since June 13 when it reached China with its coal cargo from Australia. The ship started its journey from Gladstone port in Australia on May 26. The ship remains anchored 2-3kms away from Jingtang port as China refuses to allow Australian coal to be unloaded in their country.
Yesterday, Beijing said that they are in touch with Indian authorities regarding the 23 stranded Indian seafarers who are stuck on the ship and assured that they are getting requisite aid. However, Beijing refused to specify when they will be released from the vessel.
Stranded Due To COVID Restrictions
So far the 23 sailors haven’t been allowed to get off the vessel on the pretext of rising covid cases in the country. This has put a question mark on the physical and mental health of the seafarers as they remain stranded for months.
None of the sailors in the ship has tested positive for coronavirus in the last 6 months. But the port authorities remain undeterred as they vehemently continue to implement covid protocols, deferring and preventing disembarkation.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian reiterated China’s commitment to covid19 safety saying that the country has explicit stipulations on the epidemic control measures and quarantine of seafarers at ports.
“The local authorities of China have been in close communication with the Indian side and replied to their requests in a timely manner. We also provide necessary facilitation and assistance while meeting certain quarantine and epidemic prevention requirements,” Zhao added.
Earlier in November, local port authorities prevented crew change and the disembarkation of the crew which prevented their return to home. They were also informed that in case of any medical emergency they can temporarily come ashore for treatment.
Other Stranded Ships
In another incident, another group of 16 seafarers is stuck in China on the Australian coal-carrying ship MV Anastasia near Caofeidian port which lies in the same region.
Media reports suggest that the seafarers stuck in MV Anastasia are working for more than 20 months which makes them prone to suicides and other health problems. At least 4 of them are on suicide watch.
A Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson has said on December 17 that Chinese authorities have informed that they aren’t allowed crew change on account of the covid restrictions. The spokesperson further said that they are in touch with Chinese authorities in order to resolve the issue.
“The owners of these shipping companies, as well as the receivers of the cargo, have been made aware of the reasons for delay in unloading of the cargo,” foreign ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said last week.