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COVID-19: Eight Indian sailors stranded on ship off UAE appeal for help

DUBAI: Eight Indian sailors stranded without full wages for nine months aboard a ship off the UAE have appealed for help as three of them have fallen sick, according to a media report.

The eight sailors are trapped on the ship, MV Hoot, off the coast of Khor Fakkan since June 2019 after unwittingly embroiling in a legal dispute, The Gulf News reported.

Recently, two of the seamen reportedly developed cold and fever while a third has contracted skin infection.

With no access to healthcare or medicines, the remaining crew members fear it’s only a matter of time when they will also fall sick.

“Our condition is deteriorating day by day. We are exhausted both mentally and physically. I don’t know how long we could hold on like this,” said Suresh Kumar, the ship’s chief officer.

He also claimed that the shipping company owed him several months of wages.

Jaspal Singh, 32, who handles engine maintenance, said they are living on borrowed time.

Two of us are running fever and our cook has developed blisters all over his body. We have to ration drinking water as we have no access to freshwater. Many of us haven’t taken a proper bath in months, We use seawater to bath ourselves” he said.

The sailors said they have written to various authorities but their plight continues.

The offshore supply vessel left Hamariyah Port in Sharjah on June 1 but had barely reached Khor Fakkan when it ran into trouble with coast guards for refueling in mid-sea without permission.

“It wasn’t our fault. The shipowner send us a boat carrying diesel. We were just following orders,” claimed Kumar.

On June 6, the ship was detained and is since anchored in the same position.

The matter is now in Fujairah Court.

The sailors said the shipowner supplies them food every few days but they have no access to freshwater and medicines.

“We cannot leave the ship until the court delivers a verdict as our passports and Continuous Discharge Certificates (CDCs) are with authorities,” said one of the seamen.

Meanwhile, the ship’s owner has asked the stranded sailors to accept half of what they are owed in unpaid wages.

Singh said he has turned down the offer.

The shipowner described his offer as a ‘fair deal’.

Everybody is worried about the sailors but nobody thinks about us. The vessel hasn’t done any business as it’s stuck for months. We are suffering heavy losses. We have been supplying food provisions to the sailors since June. All of this costs money. I wish the men could come ashore, but that’s something that not in my hands,” the owner said.