13 Vietnamese sailors stranded in Malaysia return home

By Hoang Phong   September 15, 2020 | 06:00 am PT
13 Vietnamese sailors stranded in Malaysia return home
A message for help is painted on a hull of a ship near the Johor state, Malaysia, by Vietnamese sailors stranded on the ship since March. Photo courtesy of the National Union of Seafarers of Peninsular Malaysia.
A group of 13 Vietnamese seafarers stuck on a ship in Malaysian waters for nearly six months were repatriated Monday.

They were part of 240 Vietnamese citizens repatriated on a special flight from Malaysia that landed at Cam Ranh International Airport in central Khanh Hoa Province.

They underwent medical checks before boarding and were quarantined on arrival. Their samples have been taken for testing as per health ministry protocol.

"They were very happy, but the only thing is they did not get their salary yet. The ship they were on might be sold as scrap, and from the proceeds they might be able to recover a portion of their salary," Malaysian newspaper The Star quoted a source from the National Union of Seafarers Peninsular Malaysia.

The sailors were abandoned in waters off Johor state from March as Malaysian authorities imposed travel restrictions to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

As food ran out, the sailors painted a message on the ship’s hull saying, "Help us. No food. No salary."

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang told a press briefing last July the owner of the ship, Thuan Thien Limited Liability Company in the northern Hai Phong, had failed to pay their salaries or costs incurred since May 26 due to the pandemic.

Vietnam has brought home over 21,000 people from 50 countries and territories on 80 flights since the country started its repatriation program on April 10, according to the ministry.

Malaysia has reported 9,969 infections and 128 deaths. In Vietnam, the Covid-19 tally is 1,063 with 35 deaths, and no community infections have been recorded in 12 days.

go to top