India in touch with China to effect crew change: MEA on stranded sailors

NEW DELHI: India on Friday said it is in touch with China to effect at the earliest a crew change for 16 Indian sailors stranded on a cargo ship in Chinese waters for nearly four months. Thirty-nine Indian crew members were stranded on two cargo ships in Chinese waters.
Ministry of external affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said MV Jag Anand effected a crew change for sailors in Japan and the Indian sailors have proceeded back to India.
“As regards MV Anastasia, which has 16 Indian crew members and is at anchorage at the Caofeidian port in China, our embassy in Beijing has been in touch with the Chinese side, both at the central government and at the provincial levels, to effect a crew change at the earliest,” he said at an online media briefing.
“Our embassy is continuously following up with both the shipping company as well as with the relevant Chinese authorities to ensure the well-being of the crew as well as to facilitate this matter further,” Srivastava said.
Earlier this month, India sought “urgent, practical and time-bound” assistance to the 39 Indian sailors stranded on the two ships, considering the “grave” humanitarian situation developing on board the vessels.
Citing coronavirus-related restrictions, Chinese authorities did not allow the ships to either dock or go for a crew change for months.
Indian bulk cargo vessel MV Jag Anand, with 23 Indian sailors, was on anchorage near the Jingtang port in China’s Hebei province since June 13 last year, while MV Anastasia, with 16 Indians as its crew, has been on anchorage at the Caofeidian port since September 20.
Asked about the fishermen issue being an irritant in India-Sri Lanka ties, Srivastava said it has been on the agenda of discussions between the two sides and there is a realisation at the highest level that it is a humanitarian issue, which has to be handled in a humanitarian manner.
“There are well-established bilateral mechanisms to deal with the issue,” he said.
On the status of the Colombo East Container terminal project, Srivastava said, “We have engaged with the Sri Lankan government to take this project forward. We will be happy to see the development of the East Container Terminal through investments from India and Japan, as is preferred by the current Sri Lankan government.”

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