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Indian sailors stranded off Sharjah coast for eight months

 Abu Dhabi, Sep 23 (IANS): Seventeen Indian sailors and their captain have been stranded on a ship anchored off the Sharjah coastline for the past eight months, a media report said on Wednesday.

The crew of a Panama-registered vessel 'M/V Aegean Princess' is anchored in the waters of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) since January 18 with limited food and water, no pay, and in grim conditions, Khaleej Times reported, citing a letter of complaint that is with the Dubai Maritime City Authority.

The ship's captain, Tin Ko Ko, who is from Myanmar, has urged the authorities to send help as soon as possible as health of the crew was deteriorating.

A Dubai-based Indian man, Brajendra Kumar Chakravarty of Vihaan Trading, is the owner of the vessel. He has been making false promises to alleviate the plight of the crew, crew said.

Hemadri Upadhyay, first officer of the vessel, said provisions were sporadic and "even when supplied, they last only three to five days".

"Whenever we call they say they are trying, trying, trying, but there is a limit. This is the fault of the ship's ownership."

According to the letter, the crew have not been provided phone cards. The sailors have to share sleeping space on the bridge, mess room and the captain's cabin.

The crew also complained of not getting salaries since the time they signed on board. A few, however, have received an occasional advance.

Apart from the shipping company's apathy, no reason has been cited in news reports for the vessel being anchored off Sharjah for over eight months.

Documents with the daily show that "of the 18 men on board, nine have already completed their contracts and wish to sign off, while the remaining nine have been on board for over two months and have received nothing".

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