The Indian ministry of external affairs on Thursday said it is closely coordinating with China to bring back 16 Indian sailors who are stranded on a cargo ship in Chinese waters for nearly four months.
"As regards MV Anastasia, we are closely coordinating with the Chinese authorities who are finalising the process of SOP (standard operating procedure) to effect crew change at anchorage," External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said at a media briefing.
Thirty-nine Indian crew members are stranded on two cargo ships in Chinese waters out of whom 23 who are stuck onboard MV Jag Anand are returning to India.
"As soon as this is received from the Chinese authorities, the company (that owns the ship) is expected to initiate the process of crew change," he said.
Srivastava said the MEA and the Indian mission in China have been continuously pursuing the issue of crew change of Indian sailors on board the two ships.
"On MV Jag Anand, the owner which is the Great Eastern Shipping Company has informed that they had decided to undertake the crew change in Chiba, Japan, where the ship will disembark 23 crew members and take on 23 replacement crew members. The disembarking crew will be flown back to their home towns in India from Tokyo," he said.
Earlier this month, India sought "urgent, practical and time-bound" assistance to 39 Indian sailors stranded on the two ships considering the "grave" humanitarian situation developing onboard 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, had been on anchorage near Jingtang port in Hebei province of China since June 13 last year while MV Anastasia, with 16 Indians as its crew, has been on anchorage near Caofeidian port since September 20.
Union Shipping Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on January 9 said that the Indian sailors on board MV Jag Anand would reach India this week.
(With PTI inputs.)
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