43 year old Balajee Krishnakumar, working as ‘1st Cook Galley’ onboard a Cruise and Maritime Voyages(CMV) ship, passed away on Wednesday in Tillbury.
The cause of his death is suspected to be cardiac arrest. Employed in MV Astoria, a CMV operated cruise ship, the death took place on another CMV operated cruise, the Vasco da Gama.
Marine Insight had published an article highlighting the plight of Indian crew members on board the ship. This comes two days after the hunger strike demonstrated by the crew members onboard the ship on their repatriation, alleging that the Indian High Command wasn’t doing enough on their part to repatriate it’s crew members.
The deceased crew member had signed his 7-month contract in August last year, which had expired in March. Fellow crew members told that Balajee was in a depressed state and wanted to go back to his family in Chennai, India desperately.
CMV said that they had successfully repatriated some crew members of the MV Astoria, but not all of the 160 strong crew. The company claimed that there was no slack from their end in repatriation efforts of its crew members, but that Indian government hadn’t granted permission for chartered flights of the company.
Crew members requested the Indian High Commission in London and the Indian government to get involved. However, it is evident that the company hasn’t gathered the necessary documentation required for crew repatriation in over 90 days.
“Frustrated. What’s next? Suicide?” was the battle cry of the stuck seafarers a few days back, until calamity stuck and claimed one life owing to suspected cardiac arrest.
The death comes in the midst of the monetary crisis being faced by CMV. Sky News had earlier reported that CMV held emergency level talks with potential lenders and investors on a last-minute rescue deal after previous talks broke down.
The UN properly described the situation of our fellow seafarers as a massive humanitarian crisis. Since the lockdown on crew movement of the cruise industry was imposed on March 13, a total of 10 seafarers died due to non-COVID related causes, unfolding the sheer scale of the crisis.