Stranded Indian sailors leave China coast after 7 months Jan 19, 2021 0 83 12345 dpa New Delhi A group of Indian sailors stranded off the Chinese coast for seven months, caught up in a trade dispute between China and Australia, have been allowed to leave for Japan, union officials said on Monday.The sailors had been stuck outside the Chinese port of Jingtang since mid-June due to a Chinese trade embargo on Australian coal. The embargo kept them from reaching China, but maritime law prevented them from taking off with a cargo that had been purchased by Chinese merchants.“Our seafarers who were doing their job were caught in a political and trade war between Australia and China,” Abdulgani Serang, general secretary of the National Union of Seafarers of India, told dpa.The 23-member crew of the Indian vessel Jag Anand arrived in Tokyo late on Monday, Serang said. Shiptracking website MarineTraffic also showed the ship docking in Tokyo. From there, the sailors will fly to India after clearing pandemic procedures.The vessel, along with its cargo of Australian coal, was granted passage to Japan last week after the intervention of the Indian government and shipowner Great Eastern Shipping. Around 55 further ships, along with scores of other sailors, many of them Indians, are still stuck in Chinese waters, Serang said.Among them is the Anastasia, another Indian-manned vessel carrying Australian coal, which has been at China’s Caofeidian anchorage since September 20.Relations between Australia and China have become increasingly strained, ever since Canberra banned Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei from setting up a 5G network in Australia.In response, Beijing placed a string of trade embargoes on Australia, in recent months including wine, beef and coal.Serang voiced optimism that the crew aboard the Anastasia will also be relieved soon, thanks to ongoing efforts, including those by its owner, Mediterranean Shipping Company.Serang said some sailors had been onboard their ships between 18-20 months, after joining duties before the pandemic threw the shipping industry into a crisis.“Sailors including from other nationalities, are in a way held captive, on a floating prison for months on end. This is taking a heavy toll on the mental and physical well-being of the crew,” Serang added.Anastasia navigation officer, Gaurav Singh said the sailors were in a desperate situation. “We are all losing our minds here,” he told the Times of India daily recently, adding one crew member had even tried to commit suicide.The United Nations had in October highlighted an “unparalleled crisis” affecting hundreds of thousands of crew members and maritime workers reeling due to the impact of Covid-19.It called on the business sector and others involved in the shipping industry to do more to address the plight of seafarers worldwide.The International Maritime Organization (IMO) estimates that only 150,000 crew have been changed since March 2020. “..That leaves 900,000 seafarers, 450,000 each way, still to change over. So some 450,000 seafarers are estimated to have gone beyond their contracts on ship,” an IMO spokesperson said. Pages 12 RELATED ARTICLES India officials deny claims hospital staff died from vaccine Jan 19, 2021 0 451 Tunisia arrests 632 people, army deployed amid violent protests Jan 19, 2021 0 325 Indonesia quake death toll rises to 84 Jan 19, 2021 0 293 At least 83 killed during clashes in Sudan’s western Darfur region dpa Khartoum At least 83 people were killed and 160 others injured when various ethnic groups clashed in Sudan’s West Darfur State, a local doctors’ association said. The fighting took place at a displaced person’s camp .. Israel strikes Hamas targets in Gaza in response to rockets Tel Aviv/Gaza City: Israeli fighter jets struck military targets belonging to the radical Islamist Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip on Monday morning, in response to two rockets fired out of the enclave, the army said in a .. 10 Afghanistan soldiers killed in Taliban attack dpa Kabul Ten members of the Afghan army were killed in a Taliban attack in the country’s northern Baghlan province, officials said on Monday. The militants attacked a military base on the Baghlan-Samangan highway .. Afghanistan launches first polio vaccination drive of 2021 Kabul: Afghanistan launched a nationwide campaign on Monday to give polio vaccination does to 9.9 million children under the age of five, the Public Health Ministry announced. Around 65,000 health workers are assigned .. China willing to share new moon samples ... after laying down rules Beijing: The first rocks brought back to Earth from the moon in decades will be shared with researchers in other countries, provided diplomats can abide by China’s rules for the process of lending and returning the ..