They had to fish for food and use our savings to survive
Twenty seamen on a cargo vessel have been abandoned at sea for over a month without food or water.
The crew on board Vietnamese flagged MV Sea Home Shine, are stranded off Kota Kinabalu port after their ship owner, Giahar Shipping severed all communications with them.
To make matters worse, the crewmen have not been paid their wages for six months.
Ship master Captain Tin Maung Maung said the crew had been facing food shortage since their arrival into Kota Kinabalu port.
“We have to fish for food and use our savings to survive,” he said in an interview with The Star.
Capt Tin said the crew aged between 19 and 58 and comprising 13 Vietnamese, four Myanmars, two Nepalese and an Indian, were worried they would be stranded for years without any word from the ship owners.
“The last time the owners contacted us was when we discharged the cargo of maize at the port in May.
“After that, there has been no word from them, even the local shipping agent, Chong Fui Shipping has not been able to contact them,” he said.
The 58-year-old skipper said they were running out of money to buy food, adding that he had resorted to calling friends in Thailand to lend him some money.
“But I don’t know if the money will ever come. If we don’t get any food supply we might have to sell something soon,” Tin said, adding that their medical supply was also running out.
He suffers from kidney stones while the chief engineer has gastritis.
A Chong Fui Shipping spokesman said the crew had been paid US$3,000 (RM9,000) for food for the past three months.
She said the company had stopped the payment after it was unable to contact the owner and the India-based firm that had chartered the vessel.
“We are waiting for the owner to reimburse us the money that we advanced to the crew,” she said.