China seeks Bangladesh support for return of 17 sailors

Staff Correspondent . Chattogram | Published: 00:14, Feb 12,2020 | Updated: 16:57, Feb 12,2020


China has requested the Bangladesh government to allow 17 sailors stranded on ship at Chattogram coast to land and fly back to their home.

The Chinese embassy in Dhaka made the request in a diplomatic note ‘to assist the crew to fly back to China,’ the embassy’s deputy chief of mission Yan Hualong told New Age on Tuesday.

The Chinese sailors who have been stuck for three days in a ship docked at  Sitakunda coast in Chattogram could not come out of the ship as the Bangladesh government has suspended on-arrival visa facilities to Chinese citizens after the recent outbreak of the Wuhan coronavirus. 

The government was expected to grant them visa so that they could travel back to China at the earliest, a foreign ministry official said on Tuesday.

Sitakunda upazila nirbahi officer Milton Roy said that health tests conducted on the 17 sailors found no symptoms of the coronavirus.

He said that the shipyard authorities had failed to report about the sailors before the ship was docked, adding that the 17 Chinese sailors were not infected with the coronavirus, but according to the rule the sailors were not allowed to go anywhere without permission from the authorities concerned.

The yard owner Abul Hasem Abdullah said that they are trying to get permission for the sailors to leave the ship and return to China, where the novel coronavirus claimed over 1000 lives.

The sailors’ agent Md Rafiqul Islam said that the 9,000-mt Uni Harvest cargo ship was imported by Lalbag Shipbreaking Yard and was docked at Sitakunda coast for scrapping.

The Japanese cargo ship sailed from China’s Weifang Port for Chattogram on January 20 and was brought to the shipyard in Sitakunda on Saturday evening.

On January 30, a letter was served to the shipping agents signed by Chattogram Port Authority Shipping assistant harbour master Captain Zohirul Islam, said that before any ship anchored here there should be a declaration that the crew was free from the coronavirus. The Radio Control wing of the port need to mark it as a fresh arrival, he added.

Everyday 10 ships are arriving at the port, among them 2-3 are from China and each consisting of 35-40 crew members, including captains and engineers.

After the spread of the coronavirus all the people of the Chinese ships are facing medical check-up at the outer anchorage of the Chattogram port.

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