Stranded Chinese sailors can leave Kolkata soon: diplomat

Updated 2017-02-14 08:49:33 Global Times

The Chinese consulate general in Kolkata promised on Monday that 23 sailors detained at an Indian port for over a month would be able to return home soon.

The Union Demeter, a 10,000-ton cargo ship from Nantong, East China's Jiangsu Province, has been detained at Haldia seaport for more than 40 days by court order, with 23 Chinese crew members stranded on board, Jiangsu News Radio reported.

Food, drinking water and oil on the ship are almost depleted and the vessel is overflowing with garbage and slops. The region where they are trapped has a high risk of dengue fever. The ship left China in July 2016 and has been detained since it was unloaded at Haldia in December.

The consulate general in Kolkata said it has coordinated with the local government in Jiangsu, expecting the crew members will return to China in the near future, according to a statement posted on its website Monday.

The cargo is owned by Nanjing Tranvast Holdings Limited in Jiangsu and the Union Demeter was detained by the order of a court in Mumbai, as other boats owned by Tranvast failed to pay refueling expenses, Captain Dai Xiaosong said.

While the ship was detained, Tranvast declared bankruptcy. Dai said the sailors have not been paid for five months, with the unpaid wages totaling 1.5 million yuan (8,000).

Dai said the crew cannot be released by the Indian government until a company takes over the ship.

China's shipping industry is in the doldrums, with many companies filing for bankruptcy. Before merging with the China Ocean Shipping Company, China Shipping, a State-owned enterprise, saw a loss of 2.3 billion yuan (1.3 million) in 2013 due to weak demand and oversupply in the industry. China's shipbuilders have also been in decline since the global slump of 2008, with orders cancelled and price decreases for new vessels, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

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