India on Friday called for “urgent, practical and time-bound” assistance to 39 stranded Indian sailors aboard two ships in Chinese waters considering the “grave” humanitarian situation developing in the vessels.
Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said Indian bulk cargo vessel MV Jag Anand has been on anchorage near Jingtang port in Hebei province of China since June 13 and it has 23 Indian sailors.
Another vessel, MV Anastasia, with 16 Indian nationals as its crew is on anchorage near Caofeidian port in China since September 20, he said.
Srivastava said both vessels have been waiting for discharge of their cargo and there is a growing stress on the crew members on account of the long delay.
“Given this and our concern for the increasingly difficult conditions for our crew members, these two cases are being pursued vigorously,” he said, responding to a media query.
Srivastava said the Indian Embassy in Beijing continues to remain in touch with Chinese authorities in Beijing, Hebei and Tianjin, adding that the MEA is following up on the matter through the Chinese Embassy here for “an early resolution”.
“We have noted statements of the Chinese side, expressing their willingness to extend their assistance in this matter. We expect that this assistance will be provided in an urgent, practical and time-bound manner, given the grave humanitarian situation that is developing on board the ships,” Srivastava said.
He said the Indian Embassy has repeatedly taken up the issue with both the Chinese ministry of foreign affairs and the local provincial authorities.
“They have been following up this matter for the last few months. The Indian Ambassador has personally taken up this issue with the Vice Foreign Minister. The Ministry has also been following this issue with the Chinese Embassy,” Srivastava said.
He said the Chinese authorities have conveyed that on account of Covid-related restrictions, change of crew is not being permitted from these ports.