31 March 2012

15 Vietnamese sailors stuck in Timor-Leste

TUOITRENEWS Fri, March 30, 2012,12:50 PM (GMT+0700) - 15 Vietnamese sailors on a cargo ship that has not been able to leave a Timor-Leste port after running out of fuel and food a month ago have sent an appeal to Tuoi Tre for assistance.

In the appeal they said their ship, the An Phu 18, operated by Hai Phong city-based An Thanh Phat 386 Co Ltd, left My Thoi Port, An Giang Province on January 1, 2012, carrying rice to Timor-Leste's port of Dili for delivery.

The ship landed at the port on January 22 but the ship had to wait until February 13 for unloading. One week later, the delivery was finished but the ship could not return to Vietnam since it had run out of fuel, food, and even drinking water.

The ship's captain, Hoang Tri Thai, told Tuoi Tre over the phone that he had reported the situation to the company but received no feedback.

"For the past month, we have lived on support from the company's agent in Timor-Leste and port authorities. We are suffering from a lack of food and drinks," he said.

Some sailors also said they had to collect rainwater for their daily use and begged the company's agent for food.

Talking with Tuoi Tre, Le Thanh Tung, director of the company, said he had hired the ship, with a tonnage of 3,060 tons, from Hai Phong-based Financial Leasing Company No. 1 under the Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development.

He confirmed that the ship was stuck in Dili but said that the sailors on board are not hungry, since the company has sent US$3,000 to its agent there to buy necessities for them.

He said, however, that "our company is facing financial difficulties and is not able to pay for expenses for the ship to leave and return to Vietnam. We will work with the bank on a bankruptcy announcement and will give back the ship to the bank, which will then take steps to arrange for the ship to return home."

According to Xa Luan newswire, the stranded sailors have also sent an appeal to Vietnam's Foreign Ministry for help.

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